A new study has found that a significant number of students are skipping breakfast – the most important meal of the day – despite widespread availability of morning meal programs.
The findings are the result of a study from the University of Waterloo that looked at eating habits of 42,000 students from 87 secondary schools in Alberta and Ontario during the 2014/15 school year.
The study found that large number of Canadian students – 39 percent to be precise – reported eating breakfast fewer than three days in a typical school week. The findings were consistent with national data that showed nationwide, 48.5 percent of adolescents skipped breakfast at least once a week.
“In spite of the widely-acknowledged value of youth having a healthy morning meal, breakfast skipping is highly prevalent among Canadian adolescents,” said Katelyn Godin, a doctoral candidate at Waterloo and lead author of the study. “While we do know that breakfast programs are having a positive impact, with one-fifth of adolescents reporting eating breakfast at school once-a-week, there is still room for improvement.”
Godin said breakfast programs are not reaching their full potential in Canada due to a lack of social awareness about their diverse benefits, lingering social stigma and limited economic support for the programs.
“Canadian breakfast programs are currently supported by a patchwork of funding and would benefit from something more consistent,” said Godin.