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Public Health Nutr. 2010 Nov;13(11):1795-802. doi: 10.1017/S1368980010000091. Epub 2010 Mar 18.

Breakfast trends in children and adolescents: frequency and quality.

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Forschungsinstitut für Kinderernährung, Research Institute of Child Nutrition, Heinstueck 11, D-44225 Dortmund, Germany.



Although breakfast is important for obesity prevention and dietary quality, breakfast skipping is a common behaviour. Knowledge of changes in breakfast habits may provide potential behaviour targets for intervention programmes. The present study describes the actual data on trends in breakfast habits and composition.


A total of 7800 3 d dietary records of 1081 participants aged 2-18 years collected between 1986 and 2007 in the DONALD (Dortmund Nutritional and Anthropometric Longitudinally Designed) Study were analysed using mixed linear models.


Breakfast was eaten at 78 % of all record days; regular breakfast (breakfast was eaten on all three recorded weekdays) was eaten in 75 % of records. During the study period, the number of records with regular breakfast decreased significantly in 6-12- and 13-18-year-olds (P = 0·0084 and 0·0350, respectively). Of all breakfast meals, 62 % were bread meals and 21 % were ready-to-eat cereal (RTEC) meals. RTEC meals nearly doubled from the youngest to the oldest age group (P < 0·0001). During the study period, the percentage of bread meals decreased, whereas the percentage of RTEC meals increased (P < 0·0001). A higher percentage of RTEC meals than the bread meals was in accordance with the food-based guidelines (36 % v. 20 %, P < 0·0001), i.e. a breakfast including grain, dairy and fruit/vegetables.


In the DONALD Study sample, a negative age and time trend in breakfast consumption was verified. Interventions regarding breakfast habits should be aimed at adolescents and should focus on fruit/vegetables.

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