Teen Moms: Start Your Day Off Right

Breakfast is key to teen mothers' dietary habits and the diets of their children

(RxWiki News) Breakfast is an important and oft neglected meal for everyone. A new study reinforces the importance of this morning meal by showing that teen mothers who eat breakfast have healthier weights and snacking habits.

The researchers from Washington University in St. Louis also found that teen mothers who eat breakfast may be encouraging healthy eating habits among their children.

In a study that involved 1,330 teenage mothers from 27 different states, Debra Haire-Joshu, Ph.D., a professor at the Brown School at Washington University, and colleagues found that 42 percent of the teen mothers ate breakfast fewer than two days per week. Compared to those who ate breakfast often, those who did not eat breakfast frequently were more likely to consume more calories from unhealthy foods.

On the other hand, teen mothers who reported eating breakfast six to seven days per week consumed many fewer calories from unhealthy foods. Mothers who at breakfast most days of the week consumed 1,197 fewer kilocalories per week from sweet and salty snacks and 1,337 fewer kilocalories per week from sweetened drinks. In addition, their BMI was lower than that of teen mothers who consumed breakfast fewer than two days each week.

Furthermore, the researchers found that teen mothers who regularly ate breakfast were more likely to consume fruits, vegetables, milk, water, and cereal as a snack, compared to mothers who ate breakfast infrequently.

According to Haire-Joshu, teen mothers are in charge of the food environment for their children. As such, it is important to understand the dietary patterns of these teen mothers in order to help avoid intergenerational obesity. If a mother is eating unhealthily, it is likely her child will do the same.

By improving healthy eating habits among their children, teen mothers can reduce their risk of obesity. Obesity at a young age increases a child's risk of being obese as an adult.

According to a CDC study, approximately 12.4 percent of children between the aged 2 to 5 years and 17 percent of children aged 6 to 11 years are overweight or obese.

Obesity has definitively been linked to health complications including stroke, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, all of which burden America with billions of dollars in avoidable health care costs. Also, obesity negatively impacts America's ability to compete in the global market by costing billions of dollars in lost productivity each year.

The study by Haire-Joshu and colleagues is published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Review Date: 
February 23, 2011