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May 19, 2010

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Kids slighting breakfast, experts lament

FEWER than 20 percent of domestic pupils eat a well-balanced breakfast, while the majority of kids gobble "the most important meal in the day" in a hurry or just skip it, according to a survey released yesterday by the Shanghai Association for Student Nutrition and Health Promotion.

The survey, conducted among 30,000 primary school students in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou in April, showed that 20 percent of Shanghai pupils and 25 percent of kids in Beijing and Guangzhou don't have a daily breakfast.

"Chinese parents have started to realize the importance of breakfast and prepared breakfast for their children, but their awareness on a good nutritional breakfast still lags behind," said Dr Cai Meiqin, an association member and the leader of the survey.

"We insist that children should eat breakfast every day, should eat it for at least 20 minutes and the breakfast should contain at least four types of food like cereal, milk, meat, vegetable and fruit."

In the survey, 40 percent of Beijing and Shanghai children and 55 percent of Guangzhou children reported finishing their breakfast within 10 minutes. Less than 20 percent of all the surveyed children said they eat vegetables, fruits and meat at their breakfast.

Over half of their parents thought vegetables and fruits were unnecessary at breakfast.

Experts said parents usually prepared their children's breakfast with cereal, milk and egg.

Such a menu is too simple and can't ensure balanced nutrition, they said.

"Not having breakfast or having poorly nutritious breakfast can lead to children's poor learning performance in school, malnutrition, stomach and digestive diseases, obesity and other health problems," Cai said.

"Vegetable and fruit are rich in vitamins and dietary fiber, ensuring balanced nutrition to children in the key stage of development."


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