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Over half of Irish parents admit that kids are skipping meals

9th September 2010

Over half of Irish parents admit that kids are skipping meals
Summer 2010

46% of parents say breakfast most likely meal to be skipped

Fifty six percent of Irish parents admit that their kids skip meals. The likelihood for kids to skip meals is much higher among teenagers with 67% of parents with a child in secondary school admitting that their child does so, in comparison to 46% of parents of primary school children.

What is most alarming in the Kellogg’s Sorted 4 School Survey findings is that amongst parents who admit to a meal skipping problem – 46% indicate that breakfast is the most likely meal to be skipped ,followed by lunch (37%) and dinner (18%).

The Kellogg’s Sorted 4 School Survey also reveals that nearly all Irish parents (96%) recognise the importance of breakfast for school-going children and make a special effort to encourage their child to eat breakfast every day before they leave for school. However, despite these best efforts, 67% of teenagers admit to skipping meals, with more than half (56%) saying the meal they were most likely to miss is breakfast. 46% of parents revealed that their primary school-going child often skips meals, with 34% of these avoiding breakfast.

The main reason parents of primary school children gave for their children missing breakfast is that their child is a fussy eater (56%). In contrast, more than half (55%) of teenagers who skipped meals said it was because they are usually too busy.

Commenting on the findings, Nutritionist Paula Mee said: “It’s clear that parents have a desire for the family to start the day well, but that’s just not happening in many Irish households. It's surprising because there’s not much preparation required for breakfast compared to lunch or dinner. It can be very simple yet nutritious and requires only a few minutes. Easy things like setting the table the night before, can be a visible reminder for a teenager of the need to refuel the brain and body before leaving for school the following morning. These results show us that while parents recognise and are committed to the importance of this meal – they still struggle to ensure that kids eat breakfast every day.”

It does appear however, that teenagers listen to their parents more than we think, with three fifths (60%) saying that they sometimes eat breakfast as a result of their parents ‘pestering’ them to do so.

“It’s gratifying to know that at least some of what we say, appears to filter through, even during those teenage years! As a mother and former teacher I know the importance of young people starting their day with a healthy breakfast. These statistics show that perseverance does pay off”, said News-anchor Sharon ni Bheolain, who helped launch the findings of the survey today.

Breakfast cereal is clearly the first choice for primary school children, with 75% of parents claiming that their primary school child eats breakfast cereal most often for breakfast. The next most popular breakfast choice with primary school children was toast (11%), followed by porridge (7%). 48% teenagers said that they eat cereal for breakfast most often, followed by toast (26%).

It appears that poor eating habits become more of a concern for parents as their children get older. For parents of primary school children, just over a quarter (26%) worry that their child eats the wrong food. However, this figure grows to 37% for parents of teenagers.

Not surprising perhaps, in today’s busy society, only 12% of parents said that their family eats breakfast together every day, with almost two thirds (59%) of teenagers saying that they rarely eat breakfast with their families.

Speaking at the launch of the Kellogg’s Back to School Survey, Independent Nutritionist Paula Mee said “We’re all aware that breakfast is an important meal. However the reality is that many children and teenagers are not 'breaking' the 'fast' before they leave for school. The concern then is when do they next eat, and what do they next eat? Is it something from the sweet shop or vending machine at school? How does this habit affect their long term health and even short term performance in terms of concentrating or playing their sport well. Having breakfast together, even if it’s only for ten minutes, means that both parents and children receive many essential nutrients to start the day such as calcium, iron and fibre amongst others”.

Kellogg’s have announced their support for the Paula Mee Breakfast Club ( which launches today, 16th August 2010. This website is designed to give parents and kids simple tips and recipes for handy breakfasts, while outlining some important facts around breakfast habits.

Louise Sullivan, Kellogg’s said: “The results from this survey really highlight the differences in eating habits between primary and secondary school children, with teenagers far more likely to skip breakfast. However, we have seen that a few words of advice and encouragement from parents can have a really positive impact on their children’s attitude towards their diet”.


cc Ireland4Kids



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