Adolescents and Millennials do not properly consume the first meal of the morning, with consequences on psycho-physical health
Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day, yet many Italians do not consume it adequately, especially in the younger sections of the population. This is the photograph taken by the ISS in the study “The Surveillance HBSC 2018 – Health Behavior in School-aged Children: results of the Italian study among children aged 11, 13 and 15” (2018): according to the research, 1 teenager out of 4 does not eat an adequate meal upon awakening. While the data from the Doxa-UnionFood Observatory “I start well” (2019) reveal that among the Millennials, or in the age group between 15 and 24 years, the phenomenon of “breakfast skippers”, that is, those who prefer not to eat nothing as soon as you wake up, affects 2 out of 10.
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A mistake, since authoritative scientific studies agree that skipping breakfast at a young age exposes to consequences for health and psycho-physical well-being, such as a greater propensity to obesity and diabetes in adulthood, a lower ability to concentrate and frequent mood swings.
The risks of a day without breakfast
“Upon awakening, after a prolonged night fast – explains Dr. Martina Donegani, nutritionist biologist – we find ourselves in reserve of fuel: we must replenish all the energy spent in the night, to allow our body to face the new day at the best of ‘efficiency. Missing an appointment with breakfast or reducing it to a hasty taste is harmful because it inevitably leads to a decline in our performance in the early hours of the day. Children who neglect breakfast show a lower ability to concentrate in school and a worse endurance during physical activity; not only that: they are also induced to have too abundant snacks during the morning and to reduce lunch to a minimum, with the consequent result of a vicious circle that triggers an unregulated diet, full of often unhealthy ‘between meals’ “.
“Starting the day with a good breakfast also helps to respect that division into five meals that guarantees maximum well-being for the body and mind”, continues the nutritionist. “The satiating effect of breakfast is all the more important if we think that it has been shown that those who eat a good breakfast out of habit have a greater ease in controlling body weight, while skipping the first meal of the day often is correlated to an index of higher body mass even in adulthood, with all the negative consequences for health that this entails: obesity, a greater cardiovascular risk and greater predisposition to the development of diabetes and metabolic syndrome “.
The reasons for missing the meal? “Young people – says the expert – today are often alienated from virtual realities (social media in the first place) and sometimes this lack of contact with real reality leads to overshadowing even the time dedicated to the satisfaction of personal needs, even those primary like eating “.
The 10 benefits of a good breakfast
The nutritionist, in collaboration with “Io Comincio Bene”, the portal dedicated to those who love breakfast – has developed a handbook of good reasons to reiterate the importance of this meal, especially for teenagers and Millennials.
What to eat for breakfast
An example? “A glass of water, as soon as you wake up, followed by a nice cup of milk (or yogurt) and a wholemeal sandwich (50 g) or 30 g of biscuits, that is 2-3 shortbread biscuits or 4-5 dry biscuits or 4 rusks or 1 pancake – with a layer of hazelnut and cocoa spread or jam and 3 chopped walnuts or alternatively muesli or cereals (30 g) and a fresh fruit ”, advises the nutritionist.
And obviously parents must set a good example, sitting at the table with their children before going to work, to consume all together what is considered the most important meal of the day: from a research carried out in 2019 within the Observatory Doxa-UnionFood “I start well” it emerged that in families where parents have breakfast, in most cases their children also have breakfast (81%).
To entice adolescents to adopt the healthy habit of having breakfast every morning, it is also important to propose foods that are “pleasant” both to the taste and to the sight. Breakfast does not have to be a monotonous meal, but it is possible to make it varied and cheerful: from baked goods to pancakes, from juices to centrifuges, from biscuits to toast enriched with jams or spreads; breakfast can always be different and inviting, full of seasonal fruits and colors. “The deep-rooted habit in our country of combining the consumption of milk and derivatives with foods with a high content of complex carbohydrates, as well as giving satiety, responds well to the nutritional needs of adolescents’ bodies. In the classic scheme of the so-called “continental” breakfast, milk or its derivatives (first of all yogurt), offer proteins and fats that not only provide material to build and maintain tissues, but also act on appetite control, while Complex carbohydrates from bread, cereals, biscuits or rusks influence the release and activity of hormones involved in various ways in both regulating satiety and blood sugar. A fresh fruit or a juice then helps to integrate the right vitamin intake and keep the body hydrated ”, concludes Martina Donegani.