What and where to eat breakfast may affect psychological health in kids

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Scientists from Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha and elsewhere found that breakfast may affect psychological health in children and teens.

The research is published in Frontiers in Nutrition and was conducted by José Francisco López-Gil et al.

Psychosocial health encompasses the mental, emotional, social, and spiritual dimensions of what it means to be healthy.

Although there is no accepted definition in the field, it usually includes characteristics such as self-esteem and mood, as well as affect, such as anxiety.

Previous research found that affective disorders (e.g., anxiety) are the leading causes of illness and disability, as well as years lost due to disability among children and adolescents (young people).

One important factor linked to psychological health is diet. Researchers have found that failing to eat a healthy diet is linked to a higher risk of behavioral problems in young people.

For example, skipping breakfast was related to a higher risk of stress, depression, and psychological distress in all age groups, as well as anxiety in adolescents.

In the current study, researchers aimed to examine whether breakfast statues, places, and habits are linked to psychosocial behavioral problems in young people aged 4–14 years in Spain.

They used data from the Spanish National Health Survey (2017), including 3,772 Spanish children and adolescents.

Breakfast status, place, and habits were assessed by questions answered by parents/guardians. The team also evaluated the psychosocial health of their children.

The researchers found that skipping breakfast and eating breakfast out of home were linked to greater risks of psychosocial behavioral problems than eating breakfast at home.

Similarly, not consuming coffee, milk, tea, chocolate, cocoa, yogurt, etc., for breakfast was related to greater risks of psychosocial behavioral problems.

The team showed that this association was also found for those who did not eat bread, toast, cereals, pastries, etc., for breakfast.

On the other hand, not eating eggs, cheese, ham, etc., was linked to lower risks of psychosocial behavioral problems.

These findings suggest that eating breakfast (specifically at home) and breakfast habits related to the intake of certain food/beverage groups were linked to higher or lower risks of psychosocial behavioral problems.

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