Why Kids & Teens Should
Jump Start their Day with a Nutritious
Breakfast

Breakfast: it’s often referred to as the most important meal of the day.

But do you know why it’s especially important for kids and teens?
Find out why consuming a nutritious breakfast is so important with our 9 Breakfast Nutrition Facts!1-3

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Up to 90% of those ages 4-18 fall short of meeting dietary needs for one or more key nutrients*

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About 1 in 4 teens skip breakfast, which is associated with a variety of nutritional and health consequences

During the night,
your body is actively active!

Break the fast with breakfast

You might be asleep, but that doesn’t mean your body is taking a breather.

During the night the body is actively using its energy stores (since you can’t eat and sleep at the same time) to carry out important functions such as breathing, circulating blood and maintaining brain activity.

That’s why breakfast is so important—especially for kids, whose energy stores are smaller than adults. Breakfast breaks the overnight fast that can last 10 hours or more, and provides a new source of fuel that your mind and body need to function at their best.4-6

Make protein a priority at breakfast to 
support growing muscles and bones

The body needs adequate protein to support growth and to help build lean muscle and bone mass. But while you sleep, your body breaks down more protein than it builds.

How important is protein at breakfast for kids? A recent study among children ages 7-11 found that compared to a meal with no protein, consuming 7 grams or more of milk-based protein at breakfast (about the amount of protein in 1 cup of milk) helped counteract overnight protein losses and improved measures of protein metabolism important for growth. This was found despite an equal amount of protein consumed for the entire day.

While breakfast is usually the meal with the lowest protein intake, making protein a priority at breakfast can help children get the protein they need to support normal growing muscles and bones.4,7-9

Total daily protein needs vary by age, gender and activity level, but here are some general guidelines:

Ages 4-8:

AT LEAST

19 g

PROTEIN / DAY

Ages 9-13:

AT LEAST

34 g

PROTEIN / DAY

Females,
Ages 14-18:

AT LEAST

46 g

PROTEIN / DAY

Males,
Ages 14-18:

AT LEAST

52 g

PROTEIN / DAY

Daily Calorie Needs

Total daily calorie needs vary by age, gender, height, weight and level of physical activity.

Get the energy you need 
to start the day

Did you know that kids ages 3-11 have greater energy (calorie) needs than adolescents and adults relative to body weight?

And since their bodies can’t store as much energy as adolescents or adults, it’s essential for kids to consume enough calories every day to get the energy they need. An adequate breakfast ought to provide at least 20% of daily energy needs. However, children ages 4-18 consume only about 14% of their total calories when they eat breakfast, and 1 in 4 teens skip breakfast entirely. This suggests many kids fall short of consuming an adequate breakfast.

Eating a nutritious breakfast and shifting more of the day’s calories to breakfast can help make sure kids and teens get the energy they need to start their day.3,6,7,10-12

Support healthy physical growth and development

Nutrient needs for adolescents (ages 10-19) are higher compared to any other time in life in order to support growth spurts, and inadequate intake of calories, protein, calcium, vitamin D, zinc, iron, and other essential nutrients can slow growth.

Furthermore, kids and teens who skip breakfast often have lower intakes of key nutrients compared to those who don’t. As the first meal of the day, breakfast is a key opportunity to get the calories, protein and essential nutrients needed to support proper growth and development.2,13-15

Up to 90% of kids and teens fall short of meeting dietary needs for one or more key nutrients*

Daily calcium and vitamin D requirements for kids and teens

Ages 4-8:

1,000 mg

CALCIUM / DAY

600 IU

(15 mcg)

VITAMIN D / DAY

Ages 9-18:

1,300 mg

CALCIUM / DAY

600 IU

(15 mcg)

VITAMIN D / DAY

Build strong bones with calcium and vitamin D

Calcium and vitamin D – two nutrients generally consumed in higher amounts at breakfast – are essential for building and growing strong bones.

Calcium is especially important during adolescence, since this is when bones build up calcium at the highest rate, and a key period for determining bone mass throughout adulthood. However, more than 70% of adolescent females and up to 50% of adolescent males don’t meet calcium requirements, while more than 90% of children and teens don’t meet vitamin D requirements. Not surprisingly, kids and teens who skip breakfast have lower intakes of calcium and vitamin D than breakfast eaters.

Consuming foods rich in calcium and vitamin D at every meal, including breakfast, is key to building strong bones.1,2,14-17

Choose iron-rich foods for healthy red blood cells

Growing kids and teens need more iron (which helps blood deliver oxygen to the body) because of expansion in blood volume and increases in muscle mass. Female teens have the highest requirement and are most at risk for iron deficiency. And—you guessed it—kids who skip breakfast have lower intakes of iron compared to those who don’t.

Including fortified cereals and nutritional drinks at breakfast is a great way to help kids and teens get the iron they need.14,15,18,19

Ages 4-8:

10 mg

IRON / DAY

Ages 9-13:

8 mg

IRON / DAY

Females,
Ages 14-18:

15 mg

IRON / DAY

Males,
Ages 14-18:

11 mg

IRON / DAY

Daily iron requirements vary by age and gender.

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Recent estimates show that nearly 20% of US children ages 2-19 are obese!

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This represents a 30% increase in obesity since 2000.

Maintain a healthy body weight

Kids who eat breakfast regularly are less likely to be overweight or obese than those who don’t.

Skipping breakfast is also associated with greater increases in body mass index (BMI) over time. Adolescents (ages 10-19) who skip breakfast are more likely to keep skipping breakfast as adults, extending their risk of being overweight.

Therefore, it’s important to establish healthy habits during childhood, including starting the day with a nutritious breakfast.20-23

Don’t skip breakfast and 
miss out on essential nutrients

Besides missing out on energy to start the day, skipping breakfast can also mean missing out on essential nutrients like calcium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, and fiber. Teens who skip breakfast also have lower diet quality and lower intake of fruits and whole grains. Nutrients missed at breakfast are unlikely to be made up later in the day.

Breakfast is considered a nutrient rich meal because it generally provides high levels of nutrients relative to total calories. Eating breakfast daily can fill nutritional gaps and help kids and teens get essential nutrients they need every day.1,2,14,15,21

Up to 90% of kids and teens fall short of meeting dietary needs for one or more key nutrients*

Fuel busy days with a convenient 
and nutritious breakfast

Throughout history, breakfast has been a meal characterized by convenience and designed to fuel busy lives. After all, breakfast doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming to be nutritious. Many foods are easy to prepare and full of key nutrients that kids and teens need, like calcium, vitamin D, iron, and protein.

Carnation Breakfast Essentials® nutritional drinks, fortified cereals, eggs, dairy products, and smoothies with added fruits and vegetables are just a few examples of nutrient-dense foods that are easy to add to a daily breakfast routine.24

References

  1. Drewnowski A et al. Nutrients 2018;10(9). pii:E1200.
  2. USHHS and USDA. 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 2015. Appendix E-2.1: Usual Intake Distributions, 2007-2010, by Age/Gender Groups. Available at: www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015-BINDER/meeting2/docs/refMaterials/Usual_Intake_072013.pdf
  3. USDA, ARS. 2018. What We Eat In America, NHANES 2015-2016. Available at: https://www.ars.usda.gov/ARSUserFiles/80400530/pdf/1516/Table_13_BRK_GEN_15.pdf.
  4. Karagounis LG et al. J Nutr 2018;148:729-37.
  5. Zijlmans WC et al. Metabolism 2009;58:1356-65.
  6. Affinita A et al. Ital J Pediatr 2013;39:44.
  7. Mathias KC et al J Nutr 2017;147:1160-66.
  8. IOM, NAS. DRIs for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein and Amino Acids. 2005.
  9. USDA, ARS. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Release 28. Available at: www.ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb.
  10. Edefonti V et al. AJCN 2014;100:626-56.
  11. Timlin NT, Pereira MA. Nutr Rev 2007;65:268-81.
  12. USHHS and USDA. 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 2015. Available at: www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/appendix-2/
  13. Spear BA. J Am Diet Assoc 2002;102:S23-S29.
  14. Deshmukh-Taskar PR et al. J Am Diet Assoc 2010;10:869-78.
  15. Ramsay SA et al. Eur J Clin Nutr 2018;72:548-56.
  16. IOM, NAS. DRIs for Calcium and Vitamin D. 2011.
  17. Nicklas TA et al. J Adolesc Health 2000;27:314-21.
  18. Mesias M et al. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 2013;53:1226-37.
  19. IOM, NAS. DRIs for Vitamins A & K, As, B, Cr, Cu, I, Fe, Mn, Mo, Ni, Si, V and Zn. 2001.
  20. Hales CM et al. NCHS Data Brief No 288. 2017.
  21. Rampersaud GC et al. J Am Diet Assoc 2005;105:743-60.
  22. Timlin MT et al. Pediatrics 2008;121:e638-e645.
  23. Merten MJ et al. J Am Diet Assoc 2009;109:1384-91.
  24. Gibney MJ et al. Nutrients 2018;10:559.
  • *Average percentage of individuals (ages 4 -18) with usual dietary intake below the EAR (Estimated Average Requirement) or AI (Adequate Intake). Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Appendix E-2.1.