The impact of breakfast intake on BMI in high school teenagers in California

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Skipping breakfast is an unhealthy eating habit that commonly occurs in teenagers and has become a public health concern for the youth population in the state of California. The literature indicates a relationship between skipping breakfast and overweight/obesity, which may result from unhealthy dietary behavior and skipping other meals. This study aimed to assess the impact of skipping breakfast and breakfast eating frequency (low, moderate, and high breakfast intake) on body mass index. We hypothesized that skipping breakfast will result in higher BMI and higher consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB), while high breakfast intake will lower BMI. An independent samples t-test was used to compare the mean BMI between breakfast-skippers and breakfast eaters. Further, the breakfast eaters were categorized into low, moderate, and high breakfast intake groups to assess the impact of breakfast frequency on BMI. A one-way ANOVA was used to determine the differences in BMI between breakfast-skippers and the above breakfast intake categories. Similar analyses were performed in males, females, and in different ethnic/race groups using the split file function in SPSS. A significant difference was observed between the mean BMI of breakfast eaters and skippers (p = 0.005). The frequency of breakfast intake impacted BMI. High school teenagers who did not eat breakfast had a higher BMI (p = <0.001) compared to teenagers who had high breakfast consumption (5-7 days breakfast intake). Specifically, only the high breakfast intake group (p = <0.001) had a significantly lower BMI, but not those who had low (1-2 days breakfast intake) (p = 1.00), or moderate (3-4 days breakfast intake) (p=0.868) compared to breakfast skippers. A similar trend was observed in females, males, non-Hispanic, and black African Americans when our dataset was split by gender and ethnicity. In summary, this study shows that skipping breakfast has a negative impact on high school teenagers’ BMI. The study also revealed the importance of eating breakfast almost daily (5-7 days) to improve body weight; therefore, effective strategies to promote the daily consumption of breakfast are warranted to combat obesity in high school teens in California.
A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Master of Public Health
Public Health, Health Education