Young people who eat lunch make better dietary choices

Young people who eat breakfast and lunch generally eat more healthily during the course of the day. These are the results of a study which was conducted by researchers at the Department.

Youth eating lunch

Young people who eat from the morning onwards ingest more fibre, as well as fruit, berries, fruit juice and smoothies which are part of the recommended “five a day””, says researcher Lene Frost Andersen. Photo: Colourbox.com

Forsker
Professor Lene Frost Andersen. Photo: Øystein Horgmo, UiO.

In 2015 almost 700 pupils from fifty-four Norwegian secondary schools recorded what they ate over the course of four days by using an online diet book.

These young people reported that they did not eat breakfast and lunch on 8% and 11% of the days respectively.

Cutting out lunch on weekdays was associated with more unhealthy dietary choices compared to days when they did not skip lunch. Weekdays without lunch resulted in higher ingestion of the following:

  • Energy from added sugar and fats.
  • Unhealthy food such as cakes, sweets and salty snacks.

The Norwegian study is the first study which has investigated the links between skipping breakfast or lunch and dietary intake during a whole day among young people.

Ingestion measures

Researcher and co-author of the study, Lene Frost Andersen at the UiO, explains that the ingestion of food among young people is not entirely in line with dietary recommendations.

Eating too much added sugar and saturated fats, as well as a low intake of fruit and vegetables, is one of the challenges identified which could have a negative impact on their future health.

Identifying targets for improving young people’s habits is therefore important, says Lene Frost Andersen, and she mentions school lunch as being one possibility.

Research study

This study aimed to investigate incidences of skipping meals and whether or not skipping meals would have an impact on the quality of one’s diet.

Read the article

Diet quality on days without breakfast or lunch – Identifying targets to improve adolescents

in the journal “Appetite”.

Study programmes

Master’s degree in Clinical Nutrition

/University of Oslo Public Release. View in full here.