More Australian children skipping breakfast

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 26th September 2013

One in seven Australian school children are skipping breakfast, according to findings from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), prompting concern from breakfast cereal manufacturers.

The CensusAtSchool survey findings, released on 23 September by the ABS, found that on average 14.8 per cent of school children in Australia skipped breakfast.

The findings, which are based on voluntary reponses from more than 23,700 Australian school children, showed that skipping breakfast was a bigger issue in the ACT, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory, which all reported rates above the national average.

The Northern Territory tops the list with 23.3 per cent of school children skipping breakfast on the day they took the survey. In the ACT 20.1 per cent of school children had skipped breakfast on the day of the survey, 18.5 per cent in Tasmania, 15.9 per cent in Queensland, 15.7 per cent in South Australia, and 15.2 per cent in Western Australia.

Only New South Wales (14.1 per cent) and Victoria (12.3 per cent) reported rates below the national average.

“This is the fourth year in a row breakfast skipping among school children has increased,” said Leigh Reeve, Director of the Australian Breakfast Cereals Manufacturers Forum (ABCMF) and Accredited Practising Dietitian. “It’s now up to 14.8 per cent of children skipping breakfast compared to 10.8 per cent from five years ago. It’s a concerning trend,” she said.

The benefits of breakfast

The ABCMF said breakfast was a “meal linked to improved school performance and lower Body Mass Index (BMI) in children”.

“As children head towards the busy fourth term and exam time, it becomes more crucial for them to eat a healthy breakfast,” Ms Reeves said. “There’s more than 50 years of scientific evidence supporting the role of breakfast and better brain function in children, with the latest science linking breakfast with improved numeracy and literacy skills,” she said.

“Children who regularly eat breakfast cereal are also more likely to have a better diet overall, a healthier weight, and consume more essential nutrients,” Ms Reeves said. “In the long term, this important dietary habit may also reduce their risk of many lifestyle related diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes,” she said.

For children who reported eating breakfast, breakfast cereal remained the most popular choice with more than a third (37.4 per cent) eating breakfast cereal on the day of the survey, followed by bread or bread products (26.7 per cent).

Australian adults skip breakfast too

It seems that it is not just children who skip breakfast. Australian Food News reported in March 2012 that research from food manufacturer Kraft Foods Australia had found that more than half of Australians are skipping breakfast.

More Australian children are skipping breakfast