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J Natl Med Assoc. 1995 March; 87(3): 195–202.
PMCID: PMC2607827

The nutritional impact of breakfast consumption on the diets of inner-city African-American elementary school children.


To determine the contribution of breakfast-eating behavior to dietary adequacy among low-income African-American children, 1151 children attending grades two through five at four elementary schools in East Orange, New Jersey were studied. Results of a 4-day eating behavior survey and a 24-hour dietary recall reveal that on any given day, 12% to 26% of children attend school without having eaten anything. Thirty-six percent of the children were obese, which did not vary with breakfast-eating behavior. A significantly greater proportion of the children who skipped breakfast compared to those who ate breakfast failed to achieve dietary adequacy for nearly every nutrient studied. More than one third of breakfast skippers consumed < 50% of the recommended dietary allowance for vitamins A, E, B6, and folacin, and nearly one fourth consumed < 50% of the recommended dietary allowance for calories, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. Not eating breakfast results in substantial deficits in dietary intake of a variety of essential nutrients among low-income African-American school children. Efforts to improve the nutritional status of children should include nutrition education to promote breakfast.

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