An expert has caused controversy after declaring that forcing children to eat breakfast is ‘a form of child abuse.’
Most of us have grown up on the mantra that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but according to Professor Terence Kealey, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buckingham, making children eat a morning meal could actually be doing them more harm than good.
The Daily Mail reports that Professor Kealey is a Type-2 diabetic, and began to review his stance on breakfast after noticing that his symptoms improved after he started skipping the meal.
He detailed his findings at last week’s Oxford Literary Festival, explaining that eating at this particular time of day increases blood glucose levels when they are already very high, and could increase the risk of developing conditions such as diabetes or obesity – in both children and adults.
When asked what he would recommend a child eat for breakfast, he responded: ‘I would let the kids decide for themselves if they want breakfast. Lots of kids don’t want to eat breakfast.’
‘If you’re worried, give them an apple or something, but the idea that you should force them to eat breakfast is a form of child abuse.’
‘There is a scientific community that for a hundred years has determined we should all be eating breakfast, and in a sense, it has fooled itself as much as fooled anyone else in the data it has collected.’
He added that he felt that school breakfast clubs, which often provide free meals to children across the UK, are effective because they reduce rates of truancy, rather than improving children’s stamina and concentration, as is often claimed.
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However, paediatric nutritionist Jennifer Rosborough told the paper that her recommendation was still that it is ‘helpful’ to eat breakfast.
Although she said she didn’t think you should ‘force’ children to eat breakfast, she clarified: ‘Our point of view is that it helps people be a healthier weight because it stops them from becoming over-hungry throughout the day. If what [Professor Kealey] is saying is true, it’s the first I’ve heard of it.’