Promoting breakfast eating among children has many benefits, including improved cognitive and physical abilities, increased likelihood of meeting the recommendations for fruit and vegetable intake, and decreased unhealthy snacking. The Ministry of Health’s Food and Nutrition Guidelines highlight the importance of eating three healthy meals every day, including breakfast.
The Breakfast-eaters programme run by HPA encourages families with children to eat a healthy breakfast every day. HPA monitors both children’s and their parents/caregivers’ breakfast eating habits in the Health and Lifestyles Survey (HLS), as parental breakfast consumption has been found to be an important predictor of whether a child eats breakfast or not.
In the 2012 HLS, parents and caregivers were asked how many times in the past seven days they ate breakfast, and similarly, how many times in the past seven days their child ate breakfast. Responses to both questions were recorded as the number of days from zero to seven.
For further analysis purposes, responses were grouped into two categories: breakfast was eaten every day or breakfast was eaten less than every day. The following demographic factors were analysed to determine whether there are any differences in daily breakfast consumption among the sub-groups:
- ethnicity (Māri; Pacific; European/Other)
- age (Children: 5 to 7 years; 8 to10 years; 11 to 13 years; 14 to 16 years. Adults: 15 to 24 years; 25 to 34 years; 35 to 44 years; 45 to 54 years; 55 and above)
- neighbourhood deprivation status (Low: NZDep 1 to 3; Mid: NZDep 4 to 7; High: NZDep 8 to 10)
- parents/caregivers’ educational status (No formal qualification; Secondary school; Trade/Professional/Undergraduate diploma; Bachelor’s Degree/Postgraduate).
Only those group difference that are statistically significant (p < 0.05) are reported.
- The majority (86.6%) of children aged 5 to 16 years are reported to have eaten breakfast every day in the previous seven days. This rate is higher than their parents and caregivers’ reported daily breakfast consumption (68.8%).
- Children whose parents or caregivers eat breakfast every day are more likely to do the same compared with children whose parental figures do not eat breakfast every day.
- There is a marked steady decline in daily breakfast consumption between the youngest children in the sample (93.1% of 5 to 7-year-olds) and older children (72.2% of 14 to 16-year-olds).
- Higher parental education level is associated with higher rates of daily breakfast consumption for both parents/caregivers and for children.