New research shows one in seven Australian school children are skipping breakfast, a meal linked to improved school performance and lower BMIs in children.

The CensusAtSchool survey findings, recently released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, are based on voluntary responses from more than 23,700 Australian school children.

The survey reveals breakfast skipping is a bigger issue in ACT, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, Queensland and the Northern Territory, with all reporting rates above the national average. The Northern Territory tops the list with 22.3% of school children skipping breakfast on the day they took the survey.

Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) Leigh Reeve said the results were worrying. “This is the fourth year in a row breakfast skipping among school children has increased. It’s now up to 14.8% of children skipping breakfast compared to 10.8% five years ago. It’s a concerning trend,” said Ms Reeve. “As children head towards the busy fourth term and exam time, it becomes more crucial for them to eat a healthy breakfast.

“There’s more than 50 years of scientific evidence supporting the role of breakfast and better brain function in children, with the latest science linking breakfast with improved numeracy and literacy skills.

“Children who regularly eat breakfast cereal are also more likely to have a better diet overall, a healthier weight, and consume more essential nutrients. In the long term, this important dietary habit may also reduce their risk of many lifestyle related diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.”

In Queensland, the percentage of students who reported skipping breakfast was 15.9 per cent, above the national average of 14.8 per cent. 

Five Tips To Tackle Kids Skipping Breakfast

• Lack of time is one of the most common excuses for skipping breakfast, so make the most of the slower pace of the school holidays to establish regular breakfast habits.

• Always lead by example. Resist the urge to just grab a coffee and take five minutes for a bowl of breakfast cereal, toast or some fruit.

• Set out cereal bowls and breakfast cereal the night before to make it easy for older children to help themselves in the morning.

• If your calls for breakfast are regularly met by the response “I’m not hungry”, try limiting snacks after dinner.

• For children that are on-the-go, add some high fibre and wholegrain breakfast cereal to a fruit smoothie mix that ticks all the nutrition boxes or have a liquid breakfast product handy.