Feeding children eggs for breakfast may help promote healthy weightsBy Valerie Johnson, MHSc, RD
Eggs are a natural fresh food to nourish children’s bodies and minds with 14 vital nutrients including high quality protein, vitamin B12, vitamin A, vitamin D, iron, zinc, choline and folate. And now, two recent studies show that higher-protein egg-based breakfasts may contribute to healthy weights in children.1,2
One study found that children ate fewer calories at lunch, while the other study revealed reduced hunger following a higher protein egg-based breakfast. These findings add to the evidence on the benefits of eggs for growing children.
A study newly published in the journal Eating Behaviours found that children ate about 70 fewer calories at lunch after eating an egg-based breakfast compared to two cereal grain-based breakfasts.1 Forty school-age girls and boys between eight to ten years of age with a range of body weights participated. On separate study days, children ate one of three test meals (eggs, oatmeal, or cereal). Each of the breakfasts provided about 350 calories and different amounts of protein:
- Scrambled eggs, ½ slice whole wheat toast, diced peaches and milk (18g protein)
- Instant oatmeal, whole wheat toast, diced peaches and milk (12 g protein)
- Ready-to-eat cereal, milk, ½ strawberry pop-tart and orange juice (7 g protein)
That same day, children were offered a buffet style lunch and encouraged to eat as much as they wanted. The study tracked the children’s appetite and how much they ate on each test day. The study concluded that children who ate the egg-based breakfast consumed 70 fewer calories at lunch. The authors note this is the first study to systematically compare the effects of egg- and cereal-based breakfasts on children’s appetite and calorie intake in a controlled laboratory setting.
Another study recently published in the Journal of Nutrition found a higher protein egg-based breakfast reduced hunger in eight to 12 year-old children compared to a carbohydrate-rich morning meal.2 Sixteen normal weight and thirteen overweight children were served either a higher protein, egg-based breakfast or higher carbohydrate, waffle-based breakfast.
In this study, the protein-rich egg-based breakfast increased children’s fullness by 32%, and decreased hunger by 14% and desire to eat by 30% compared to the carbohydrate-rich meal. Researchers also observed significantly higher energy expenditure in the overweight children after they ate the higher protein egg-based breakfast. Simply put, their bodies burned more calories than the normal weight children who ate either breakfast.
The authors concluded that a protein-rich breakfast reduces hunger, increases satiety and increases energy expenditure after a meal, compared with a carbohydrate-based breakfast.
While there are clearly many factors that contribute to healthy weights (such as healthy eating patterns and physical activity), researchers propose that eating a protein-rich egg-based breakfast may help to prevent weight gain in children over time.1,2 Plus, eggs are a natural choice to help children eat less sugar.
Building a healthy breakfast around the protein in eggs can help provide children with lasting energy to fuel their day. Experts agree that a well-balanced breakfast can make a big difference in children’s performance at school. Eating breakfast increases a child’s ability to concentrate and pay attention, improves memory and problem-solving skills and has been linked to better school attendance and test scores.6
¹ Kral TV et al. Comparison of the satiating properties of egg- versus cereal grain-based breakfasts for appetite and energy intake control in children. Eat Behav 2016; 20:14-20.
² Baum JI, GrayM and Binns A. Breakfasts higher in protein increase postprandial energy expenditure, increase fat oxidation, and reduce hunger in overweight children from 8 to 12 years of age. J Nutr 2015; 145(10):2229–35.
³ Fallaize R et al. Variation in the effects of three different breakfast meals on subjective satiety and subsequent intake of energy at lunch and evening meal. European Journal of Nutrition, 2013; 52(4):1353-⁴Ratliff J et al. Consuming eggs for breakfast influences plasma glucose and ghrelin, while reducing energy intake during next 24 hours in adult men. Nutrition Research, 2010; 30:96-103.
⁵ Vander Wal JS et al. Egg breakfast enhances weight loss. International Journal of Obesity, 2008; 32:1545-51.
⁶ Politt E, Matthews R. Breakfast and cognition: an integrative summary. Am J Clin Nut 1998; 67 (suppl):804S-13S.