A study by the Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE) at the Yale School of Public Health has found that middle school children who eat breakfast at school – even if they have already eaten at home – are less likely to become obese or overweight than those who do not eat at all.

The collaboration between Yale and the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at the University of Connecticut has brought to light new evidence to the debate over policy efforts to increase daily school breakfast consumption.

While a number of previous studies have shown that eating breakfast can improve academic performance, health and bodyweight among children, many have raised concerns that a second breakfast at school might increase the risk of unhealthy weight gain.

“Our study does not support these concerns,” said Jeannette Ickovics, senior author of the report- published in the journal Pediatric Obesity – and Professor at Yale School of Public Health. “Providing a healthy breakfast to students at school helps alleviate food insecurity and is associated with students maintaining a healthy weight.”

Researchers gathered a sample of 584 middle school students from 12 schools where breakfasts and lunches were freely available. They tracked the eating patterns and locations of all participants and measured any changes in weight over a two-year period, from 5th grade in 2011-12 to 7th grade in 2013-14.

Overall, the study uncovered that students who skipped or ate breakfast irregularly were more than twice as likely to be overweight than students who ate double breakfasts, and that weight fluctuations from 5th to 7th grade for children who ate two breakfasts were no different to the fluctuations measured in all other students.

“When it comes to the relationship between school breakfast and body weight, our study suggests that two breakfasts are better than none,” said Marlene Schwartz, contributor to the study and Director of the Rudd Center.

This study could be a major breakthrough for policy makers seeking a solution to the child obesity crisis that sweeps the modern world. In the USA alone, approximately one-third of children between the ages of 6 and 11 are overweight or obese, with the highest rates among black and Hispanic children.

Additional reporting by Yale News.

Image via Shutterstock.

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