Public Health Nutrition

Research Article

Breakfast eating and overweight in a pre-school population: is there a link?

Lise Duboisa1 c1, Manon Girarda1 and Monique Potvin Kenta1

a1 Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Population Health, University of Ottawa, 1 Stewart Street Office 303, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1N 6N5


Objectives To analyse the socio-economic factors related to breakfast eating, the association between breakfast eating and overweight, and to gain a more thorough understanding of the relationship between these two elements in a population-based cohort of 4.5-year-old children. We hypothesised that a relationship could be observed between breakfast skipping and overweight independently of socio-economic factors such as ethnicity, maternal education, single parenting and family income.

Design A population-based study whereby standardised nutritional interviews were conducted with each child's parent. The children's height and weight were taken by a trained nutritionist and parents were asked about their child's breakfast eating.

Setting The analyses were performed using data from the Québec Longitudinal Study of Child Development (1998–2002), conducted by Santé Québec (Canada).

Subjects Subjects were 1549 children between the ages of 44 and 56 months, with a mean age of 49 months.

Results Almost a tenth (9.8%) of the children did not eat breakfast every day. A greater proportion of children with immigrant mothers (19.4% vs. 8.3% from non-immigrant mothers), with mothers with no high school diploma (17.5% vs. <10% for higher educated mothers) and from low-income families (15% for income of $39 999 or less vs. 5–10% for better income) did not eat breakfast every day. Not eating breakfast every day nearly doubled the odds (odds ratio = 1.9, 95% confidence interval 1.2–3.2) of being overweight at 4.5 years when mother's immigrant status, household income and number of overweight/obese parents were part of the analysis.

Conclusion Although our results require replication before public policy changes can be advocated, encouraging breakfast consumption among pre-school children is probably warranted and targeting families of low socio-economic status could potentially help in the prevention of childhood obesity.

(Received April 12 2005)

(Accepted August 10 2005)


c1 *Corresponding author: Email