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J Am Coll Nutr. 2012 Apr;31(2):87-93.

Swiss children consuming breakfast regularly have better motor functional skills and are less overweight than breakfast skippers.

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Human Nutrition Laboratory, Institute of Food, Nutrition and Health, ETH Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland.



The aim of this study was to examine the associations among eating behavior, body mass index (BMI), and motor functional skills in Swiss elementary school children.


In total, 656 schoolchildren, aged 7 to 10 years, participated in the study. Five different, normalized, and standardized motor function tests (sidewise jumping, tapping, standing long jump, 20-m sprint, and shuttle run) that determine the coordinative and conditional skills were carried out with each child at 1 of 4 time points (8, 9, 10, or 11 am) along with anthropometric measurements. Furthermore, all children completed a nutrition survey including different questions on their eating habits with emphasis on breakfast and the morning snack at school.


Children consuming breakfast almost every day had a significantly (p < 0.05) lower BMI (16.7 ± 2.2 kg/m2) compared with children eating breakfast only sometimes or almost never (18.2 ± 3.0 kg/m2 and 18.8 ± 3.4 kg/m2, respectively). They also reached better scores in 3 of the 5 motor function tests (standing long jump, 20-m sprint, and shuttle run, p < 0.05). Furthermore, overweight and obese children reached poorer results in 4 disciplines of the motor functional tests (sidewise jumping, standing long jump, 20-m sprint, and shuttle run) than normal-weight children, and they tended to eat lunch and dinner more frequently in front of the TV or in their rooms (p < 0.05). In multiple regression analysis, BMI was a significant predictor of the results for sprint, sidewise jumping, standing long jump, and shuttle run, whereas daytime, breakfast frequency, and gender predicted only some of the outcomes.


This study clearly underlines the importance of breakfast for school-aged children: Children eating breakfast almost every day had better motor functional skills and a lower BMI than children not regularly eating breakfast. The study further hints at the importance of generally healthy nutritional habits with regard to both motor functional skills and healthy weight status.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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