Is School Breakfast a Healthy Option?

Are school breakfasts a healthy choice for your child?

This question doesn’t have a simple yes or no answer. Here are some factors to consider when you’re deciding whether to choose school breakfast for your children.

Healthy compared to what?

It would be nice if your kids sat down to a peaceful breakfast at home, dressed and groomed with their homework neatly placed in their backpacks.

In the real world, sometimes you have to pick your battles.

An ABC News poll found that 40% of adults skip breakfast completely, and plenty of us grab a banana on the way out the door or scrounge a doughnut in the break room. Kids are more likely to choose cold cereal, but busy families may not sit down to breakfast at all. Some 12% of elementary age kids skip breakfast, and 30% of teenagers do the same.

Kids who skip breakfast are more likely to be obese and less likely to perform well in school, according to multiple studies. If breakfast doesn’t get eaten at home at all, or consists of a soda in the car, school breakfast is a healthier option.

What’s a healthy breakfast?

A healthy breakfast should include protein and fiber, with limited sugar and refined carbohydrates. Protein sources include eggs, nuts, yogurt, and cheese. Fiber comes from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Local schools’ breakfast menus weren’t that strong on protein and fiber for breakfast, and they offered lots of sugar. Biscuits and gravy, French toast sticks with syrup, and pastries like apple strudel and pan dulce are common choices.

Cereal and toast are offered as alternatives on most days. Milk and juice are also offered. If your kids like school breakfast, consider choosing days with healthier options.

If you feed your kids whole wheat avocado toast and plain yogurt with fresh berries at home, school breakfasts aren’t a good alternative. But school breakfast is better than no breakfast.

How about two breakfasts?

A study in Pediatric Obesity found that kids who eat breakfast at home and then have another breakfast at school are no more likely to be overweight than kids who ate just one breakfast. Those who skipped breakfast or had breakfast occasionally were more likely to be obese.

Check out some healthy breakfast recipes your kids will enjoy: