New government data has revealed that one in seven Australian schoolchildren are skipping breakfast, putting at risk their own health and perhaps also that of the country’s cereal makers.
According to the CensusAtSchool survey findings, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, more and more schoolchildren in Australia are shunning the morning meal.
The survey revealed that all states and territories had rates above the national average of 14.8% when it came to children skipping breakfast.
Northern Territory topped the list with 22.3% of school children skipping breakfast on the day they took the survey, which was based on voluntary responses from more than 23,700 Australian schoolchildren.
“This is the fourth year in a row breakfast skipping among schoolchildren has increased,” said Leigh Reeve, director of the Australian Breakfast Cereals Manufacturers Forum, and an accredited practicing dietitian.
“It’s now up to 14.8% of children skipping breakfast compared to 10.8% five years ago. It’s a concerning trend,” she said.
Reeve claimed that there’s more than 50 years of scientific evidence supporting the role of breakfast and better brain function in children, with the latest science linking breakfast with improved numeracy and literacy skills.
“In the long term, this important dietary habit may also reduce their risk of many lifestyle-related diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes,” she claimed.
Cereals come top
Cereals, however, remained at the top when it came to what students ate for breakfast, with a national average of 37.4% reporting that they had cereals, followed by 26.7% reporting that they had bread or bread products.
However, the rate of consumption of cereals did marginally come down amongst schoolchildren eating breakfast as in 2012, 38.7% reported that they had cereal for breakfast.
This could be attributed to the sustained pressure being exerted on cereal makers by groups such as consumer rights watchdog choice, which has termed ready-to-eat cereals available in Australia as “nutritionally disappointing.”
In its review of 195 readytoeat cereals, Choice claimed 73% of the 41 cereals marketed to children were high in sugar content and more than half had low fibre content. However, that study was heavily criticised by food groups and industry bodies.