Studies show that children who skip main meals are more likely to have excess body fat and an increased risk of cardio-metabolic diseases already at the age of 6 to 8 years. Of course, the contributing culprits are having a lot of sugary drinks, red meat and low-fat margarine, and very little vegetable oil. Children who skip meals and eat more protein are more likely to have excess body fat. Uncontrolled eating behaviour, like eating quickly, emotional overeating and not feeling satisfied are also associated with higher body weight.
Research shows that most children’s diet is far from ideal. Less than half of the kids eat all three main meals — breakfast, lunch and dinner — every day. Instead, snacks are a major source of energy and sucrose. Only a small percentage eats vegetables, fruit and berries as recommended. Alarmingly, as many as a quarter of the children consume sugary drinks daily. The intakes of saturated fat, sucrose and salt are higher and the intakes of dietary fibre, vitamin D and iron are lower than recommended among most children. Sticking to regular meals seems to be crucial for preventing obesity. The research was originally published in European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, International Journal of Obesity and European Journal of Nutrition.