May 30, 2019 3:54PM

More Breakfast Science to Sink Your Teeth Into

A newly-published study on 5,000 British children reveals that those from higher socioeconomic groups or from white backgrounds perform more exercise than do children from lower socioeconomic groups or from certain ethnic backgrounds including Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Black Caribbean/African. The amount of exercise correlated inversely with levels of overweight and obesity (i.e., the more exercise a child took, the slimmer they were likely to be).

Not mentioned by the authors of the study is that their data also correlate inversely with the consumption of breakfast (children from lower socioeconomic groups tend to skip breakfast more than do children from higher socioeconomic groups).

The cereal companies like to claim that the association of breakfast-skipping with overweight and obesity means that eating breakfast makes a person slim. That is a false claim. Indeed, experiments show repeatedly that eating breakfast increases the numbers of calories a person ingests.

Socioeconomic status is the great determinant of weight in children, and children from higher socioeconomic groups tend to take more exercise and eat healthier food and lead more ordered lives (which includes eating breakfast), while children from lower socioeconomic groups tend to take less exercise, eat unhealthier food, and lead more chaotic lives (which promotes breakfast-skipping). The association of breakfast-skipping with overweight and obesity, therefore, is only an association, and children from higher socioeconomic groups are slimmer despite their ingestion of breakfast, and children from lower socioeconomic groups are larger despite skipping breakfast.

The cereal companies exploit this paradox to promote the consumption of an unhealthy meal. Which is regrettable.