By Robert Stoneback

The Danville News

DANVILLE -- Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but only 34 percent of adults and 40 percent of children make the time for this meal.

These statistics come from a recent study conducted by breakfast food company Kellogg.

The study, one of the largest in the U.S. ever conducted on the health benefits of breakfast, surveyed 14,000 Americans. While 54 percent of adult Americans would like to eat breakfast, only about a third do, while 89 percent of mothers said they wanted their children to eat breakfast but less than half regularly eat it.

"Eating breakfast helps to promote healthy nutrient intake, which improves consumption of fiber, calcium, iron and vitamin D," said Kelly Fugok, a pediatric dietician at Geisinger Medical Center.

In the morning, "The most important thing is to have a breakfast versus no breakfast."

Even a meal as simple as a cheese stick, a handful of nuts, a piece of fruit or a wholegrain cereal bar will help to refuel the body after sleeping, she said. "The most important thing is to have a breakfast versus no breakfast." It's "better to at least have a glass of milk than leave the house with nothing," she said.

Breakfast does not need to be made up of the traditional morning foods such as pancakes or cereal either, Fugok continued. It can be a sandwich or leftovers from the night before. Calcium-rich foods and whole grains are preferred, "but any food can fit."

"I think it's perceived to be that lifestyles are too busy" for breakfast, said Fugok. "I think we need to have a better morning routine."

In the morning, kids especially can be more focused on watching TV or finishing homework, she said. For homework, it's better to have them finish their work the night before. Another tip is to have them wake up five to ten minutes earlier in order to eat breakfast, or if being driven to school by their parents they can eat breakfast in the car. "Breakfast needs to be planned into the morning," she said. "You need to make time for your health because breakfast can have a positive impact."

Fugok said there is evidence to suggest that children who eat breakfast have improved cognitive functions related to memory, test grades and attendance. "Breakfast is a positive impact for a child's health and also their well-being," she said.

Skipping breakfast also results in lower energy levels in both children and adults.

It's also been found in both children and adults who skip breakfast that their cardio-metabolic health is compromised, said Fugok. This means that people who skip breakfast are more inclined to be overweight, generally because a person will then overcompensate by eating more later in the day.

Fugok said that the ideal breakfast is one that consists of a variety of foods, especially high fiber foods and nutrient rich whole grains, as well as fruits, dairy products and lean meats.

Ultimately, "it's better to have something than to skip breakfast, but it's better to choose a healthy food," she said.

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