Make an impact: Prescribe breakfast for improved health and wellness

Tags: nutrition

Make an impact

Prescribe breakfast for improved health and wellness

By Katie Barckholtz, M.P.H., R.D., L.D.
Director of Health and Wellness, Dairy MAX, Inc.

Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? It just might be!

Breakfast plays an essential role in the diet. Studies show that breakfast-eaters tend to have better overall diets and that breakfast-skippers miss out on important vitamins and minerals not made up for during the rest of the day.1 Breakfast-eaters generally have higher intakes of calcium and fiber, and those who eat cereal in particular have higher intakes of calcium, fiber, iron, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin D, potassium, and zinc, as well as decreased intakes of fat and cholesterol.1,2

Breakfast may help control weight. Studies also suggest that breakfast-eaters have lower body mass index scores compared to breakfast-skippers, which may reduce risk for chronic diseases associated with overweight and obesity such as diabetes and heart disease.3,4 There are several theories to explain this. One is that breakfast literally breaks the overnight fast, speeding up the metabolism and thereby increasing the rate at which calories are burned. Another theory is that breakfast-eaters make healthier food choices throughout the day, ultimately contributing to fewer calories consumed.

Breakfast is brain food. From the classroom to the boardroom, breakfast-eaters feel more energized and better prepared to take on the day. Breakfast has been shown to improve concentration and memory, especially during childhood and adolescence.5 Studies suggest that proper nutrition can affect the development of the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is responsible for executive functions central to learning such as working memory, problem solving, reasoning, and planning.5

Start the day off right. A healthy breakfast can go a long way toward improving health and wellness. Experts recommend a winning combination of foods from the following food groups: whole grain, fruit or vegetable, and low-fat or fat-free dairy. Breakfast can be as quick and easy as a bowl of cereal with milk and an apple, a granola bar with yogurt and blueberries, or even crackers with string cheese and grapes. Whether sit-down or on-the-go, breakfast can fit any lifestyle.

Make breakfast your prescription today.

1. Barton BA, Eldridge AL, Thompson D, et al. The relationship of breakfast and cereal consumption to nutrient intake and body mass index: The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Growth and Health Study. J Am Diet Assoc. September 2005;105: 1383-1389.
2. Frantzen LB, Trevino RP, Echon RM, et al. Association between frequency of ready-to-eat cereal consumption, nutrient intakes, and body mass index in fourth-to sixth-grade low-income minority children. J Acad Nutr Diet. April 2013; 113:511-519.
3. U.S. Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Breakfast Consumption, Body Weight, and Nutrient Intake: A Review of the Evidence. November 2011. Nutrition Insight 45.
4. Pereira MA, Erickson E, McKee P, et al. Breakfast frequency and quality may affect glycemia and appetite in adults and children. J Nutr. January 2011; 141: 163-168.
5. GENYOUth Foundation. The Wellness Impact: Enhancing Academic Success through Healthy School Environments. 2013. Available at: Accessed September 5, 2013.