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Breakfast eating and overweight in a pre-school population: is there a link?

  • Lise Dubois (a1), Manon Girard (a1) and Monique Potvin Kent (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 January 2007

To analyse the socio-economic factors related to breakfast eating, the association between breakfast eating and overweight, and to gain a more thorough understanding of the relationship between these two elements in a population-based cohort of 4.5-year-old children. We hypothesised that a relationship could be observed between breakfast skipping and overweight independently of socio-economic factors such as ethnicity, maternal education, single parenting and family income.


A population-based study whereby standardised nutritional interviews were conducted with each child's parent. The children's height and weight were taken by a trained nutritionist and parents were asked about their child's breakfast eating.


The analyses were performed using data from the Québec Longitudinal Study of Child Development (1998–2002), conducted by Santé Québec (Canada).


Subjects were 1549 children between the ages of 44 and 56 months, with a mean age of 49 months.


Almost a tenth (9.8%) of the children did not eat breakfast every day. A greater proportion of children with immigrant mothers (19.4% vs. 8.3% from non-immigrant mothers), with mothers with no high school diploma (17.5% vs. <10% for higher educated mothers) and from low-income families (15% for income of $39 999 or less vs. 5–10% for better income) did not eat breakfast every day. Not eating breakfast every day nearly doubled the odds (odds ratio = 1.9, 95% confidence interval 1.2–3.2) of being overweight at 4.5 years when mother's immigrant status, household income and number of overweight/obese parents were part of the analysis.


Although our results require replication before public policy changes can be advocated, encouraging breakfast consumption among pre-school children is probably warranted and targeting families of low socio-economic status could potentially help in the prevention of childhood obesity.

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