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Breakfast with parents linked to better body image for kids

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A healthy weight, as well as a healthy body image,  are important parts of growing up.

Now, a recent study shows adolescents who eat breakfast regularly with their parents tend to have a more positive body image than those who skip their morning meal.

“This study showed children and adolescents who were at higher BMIs were less likely to be eating breakfast regularly,” said Dr. Kasey Goodpaster,of Cleveland Clinic, who did not take part in the research. “They were also less likely to be eating breakfast with their parents.” 

The study looked at data on 12,642 students.

Researchers studied eating behaviors, including how often students ate breakfast and when they ate with their parents.

Thirty percent of students surveyed were not eating breakfast regularly, and only 17% reported eating breakfast every day.

It was even less common for kids to eat breakfast with their parents each day.

Goodpaster said family meals have benefits: They’ve been linked to overall well-being for children, as well as improved nutrition, and protection against eating disorders.

She said adolescents might think skipping breakfast will help them lose weight, but in fact, the opposite may be true.

Goodpaster believes it’s important for parents to model a healthy relationship with both their food and their body.

“Adolescence is such a critical time for body image development -- there’s such a focus on physical appearance during this time, and poor body image is just so common -- and it can be really damaging,” she said. “Parents should know that it’s important to set the stage for a healthy relationship with body, and with food, and the best way to do that is to make healthy eating part of the whole fabric of family life. Children should see that it’s important to regularly fuel the body and to take care of it through these regular meals.”

Complete results of the study can be found in Social Work in Public Health.