Study: Teens Who Sit Down For Breakfast With Parents Have Better Body Image

Experts disagree about how big a role breakfast plays in overall health, but now comes news that breakfast may be the most important meal of the day in another way: Sitting down for breakfast with family is associated with more positive body image among teens. Researchers from the University Of Missouri released those findings last week, which are also published in the journal Social Work In Public Health.

After analyzing standardized survey data from more than 12,600 students in all 50 states, researchers concluded that eating breakfast regularly during the week was associated with positive body image. And eating breakfast regularly with a parent was correlated with even higher rates of body-image positivity. For those of us raised on Eggo waffles scarfed down while rushing out the door or granola bars stuffed into backpacks, the concept of sitting down on a Tuesday morning for a real breakfast sounds elusive and magical, like a unicorn or shooting star.

"Results of this study suggest that positive interactions with food—such as eating breakfast and having family meals together— could be associated with body image," Ramseyer Winter, an assistant professor in the University Of Missouri's School of Social Work and director of the MU Center for Body Image Research and Policy, said in a news release.

That's one explanation. But this skeptical reporter also wonders if households in which people sit down for breakfast aren't just more stable, financially well-off, and closer-knit overall. If parents have not just the desire but the time and financial means to sit down with their kids during the week over breakfast, that certainly sounds like a supportive household with the resources to raise confident, well-adjusted kids. Regardless, this study might be the excuse some families need to schedule a Wednesday-morning pancake party—provided everyone actually gets up, dressed, and packed for school on time.