A recent study stated that children who do not have lunch may not have enough vitamins and important minerals for their development.
Researchers have collect nutrition information from nearly 4,800 kids at school age. They found that about 7 to 20 percent of these students skip lunch at least once a week.
According to Alison Eldridge of the Nestle Research Center in Lausanne, Switzerland, lunch is a very important meal, which helps kids meet their need of nutrients, such as the need for fat-soluble vitamins A and D and some vital minerals like phosphorus, calcium and magnesium, which are of importance for bones and fiber.
Previous studies have concentrated on nutrient intake, breakfast skipping and snacking; however, no research has been carried out on lunch skipping and its impact. With an aim to fill that gap, Eldridge and her colleagues checked information from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys in 2 period: 2009-2010 and 2011-2012.
Statistics from that research points out that everyday, there is about 7% of 4 to 8 year-old children, 16% of 9 to 13 year-olds, and 17% of 14- to 18 year-olds who do not have lunch. Younger kids tend to skip their lunches on the weekends, while girls at the age of 9 to 18 are likely to skip lunch during the whole week.
Moreover, the study reveals that about 25% of the black and Hispanic teens skip lunch, and more than a quarter of black kids aged from 9 to 18 do not have lunch at weekend.
Children who skip lunch appear to face with the lack of vital vitamins like A, E, D and also the scarcity of many other essential minerals.
However, children who skip their lunches, consuming less protein, total fats and fiber still have the same level of sugar and solid fats intake as those who have lunch. Eldridge expressed her surprise when seeing that result.
She said that childhood was of the most important time for building kids’ eating habits, which would influence their health in the long-run. She also mentioned the responsibility of parents on modeling good eating behaviors for their kids. They should offer their children a wide range of nutrient-dense foods, and encourage them to eat regular meals.
Lunch, in addition, helps boost appetite and metabolism.
According to Sandra Arevalo, Director of Nutrition and Community Outreach at Community Pediatrics Program of Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical System in New York, children who skip their lunch at school are likely to eat snack and enjoy larger dinners when coming back home. That’s to say, if they only have one or two meals each day, there would not be enough nutrients for their healthy growth and development.
To improve the situation, parents must make sure that their kids eat something before school. They can offer quick and nutrient rich foods for breakfast such as cereals, a yogurt parfait, low-fat milk, a fruit and/or vegetables smoothie, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and so on.