Children Should Not Skip Meals
There’s a long history of belief in the notion that skipping meals is an effective weight loss strategy. But according to new research out of Finland, younger children who skip meals are more likely to become obese, not less.
More than 500 Finnish boys and girls, aged 6 to 8, participated. The kids were part of a study looking at dietary habits, activity levels, and the risk of subsequent heart disease and other illnesses. Investigators looked at things like waist circumference, blood lipid levels, blood pressure, and fasting blood insulin and glucose levels.
Not surprisingly, children who ate the most sugar, red meat, and low-fat margarine were identified as having the greatest cardiovascular disease risk. They were also more likely to be overweight or obese. That’s in line with plenty of research from numerous other sources, which indicates that sugar and red meat consumption are independent risk factors for heart disease. Just recently, for instance, I reported on a new finding that fructose, which is a simple sugar added to many packaged goods and soft drinks, is directly linked to high blood pressure.
But the study also showed that children who routinely skipped meals were more likely to be obese. Many of these children got a majority of their daily calories from sugary snacks, rather than sit-down meals.
“Based on the findings, sticking to regular meals seems to be crucial for preventing overweight and cardiometabolic diseases…,” said doctoral candidate Aino-Maija Eloranta. She noted that this additional risk is already identifiable even in young children. Eloranta’s findings also suggest that low-fat margarine is not healthful, as some parents assume. Rather, parents should provide regular-fat vegetable-oil margarines and vegetable oils (especially olive oil) instead of low-fat margarines. She also suggested substituting more fish in the diet, instead of red meat, and replacing sugared drinks with water or milk.
University of Eastern Finland. "Skipping meals increases children's obesity, cardio metabolic risk." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 December 2014. .