It's no secret we have an obesity problem in North America. But did you know that nearly one in three American children are overweight or obese? Sadly, at one in four in Canada, the situation here is only marginally better. An unhealthy weight can lead to serious health problems. Being overweight can increase the risk for developing diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer.i The issue of childhood obesity has been contemplated, discussed and debated for some time. A variety of programs and plans have been created over the years to encourage our kids to eat better, get up and be active, develop a positive self image, learn how to evaluate food advertising, and so on and so on. But the number of overweight kids continues to grow. It's a complex issue. And one without a quick-fix solution. But here's one small (although potentially significant) step you can make with your own kids to develop healthy living and eating habits.
New research shows that eating a protein-rich breakfast can help teens control their appetite. And further research indicates that a higher protein diet may help obese adolescents manage their weight. In a recent study published online in the International Journal of Obesity researchers looked at the effect of eating a protein-rich breakfast on adolescents who typically skipped breakfast. The researchers found that when the study participants ate a protein-rich breakfast (containing eggs), the teens weren't as hungry, and they ate about 130 fewer calories at lunch.ii According to Heather J. Leidy, assistant professor at the University of Missouri and study author,
We observed that eating breakfast, regardless of composition, led to increased feelings of fullness (satiety). However, when the adolescents ate a breakfast rich in protein, they also experienced a reduction in hunger, thus maximizing the beneficial effects of protein. This study supports similar findings in adults that showed that when adults ate breakfast meals containing high-quality protein foods, including eggs and lean Canadian bacon, they had a greater feeling of satiety throughout the day compared to when protein was eaten at lunch or dinner."
Another study published in The Journal of Pediatrics demonstrated that severely obese adolescents who followed a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet had significantly lower body mass index (BMI) after 13 weeks. And, they were able to maintain weight loss after six months compared to those who followed a low-fat diet.iii In addition, the adolescents who followed the high-protein, low-carb diet had a greater loss of body fat and reductions in triglyceride levels. Dietitian Dave Ellis, a nutrition consultant who works with athletes and families says,
These findings are important because they arm teens and their families with practical advice that can be implemented at home. Protein-rich foods, such as eggs, can keep individuals satisfied longer, helping them consume fewer calories throughout the day."
* Click here for some protein-rich breakfast recipes.
References: i) Ogden, C.L., Carroll, M., Curtin, L., Lamb, M., Flegal, K. (2010). Prevalence of High Body Mass Index in US Children and Adolescents 2007-2008. Journal of American Medical Association, 303(3), 242-249.
ii) Leidy HJ, Racki EM. The addition of a protein-rich breakfast and its effect on acute appetite control and food intake in ‘breakfast skipping’ adolescents. Int J Obs 2010.
iii) Krebs NF, Gao D, Gralla J, et al. Efficacy and safety of a high protein, low carbohydrate diet for weight loss in severely obese adolescents. J Pediatr 2010.
(Research information and quotes taken from a press release from the American Egg Board and Egg Nutrition Center.)