Children can be stubborn when it comes to eating breakfast every day and many parents struggle to make sure their kids get the required amount of nutrition before the school bus arrives. But children can start to show signs of obesity if they habitually skip breakfast during their formative years.

School-going children are more likely to binge on fast food during the rest of the day if they missed breakfast in the morning. This ends up adversely affecting their body mass index. Kids who ate breakfast in the morning before coming to school had lower BMI than those who never ate the first meal of the day, studies have shown

Regardless of age, breakfast kickstarts the body’s metabolism, helping burn calories throughout the day. Apart from reducing chances of early-onset of obesity, eating breakfast has also been linked to improvements in memory and concentration, lower levels of “bad” cholesterol, and lowering chances of getting diabetes and heart disease.

Breakfast Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. In this photo, Samantha Cameron hosts a breakfast in her Downing Street apartment with Philip Kiley (left), 8, from Chorley in Lancashire and Stevie Tyrie, also 8, from Manchester, as part of her support for the charity 'Contact A Family' which helps families with disabled children in London, Jan. 26, 2015. Photo: Getty Images/ Koen van Weel

This is why parents are often advised to pack a healthy snack like fruit, nuts, or half a peanut butter and banana sandwich that they can have between classes if they feel hungry.

“I think that parents can try things that are faster to eat — like fruit smoothies that combine frozen fruit and yogurt, or some type of breakfast “bar” that has whole grains like oatmeal, and maybe nuts. Seeds, and dried fruit,” Marlene B. Schwartz, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at the University of Connecticut told International Business Times. “Many children are in a rush to get out of the house in the morning, so It helps if the food is portable so the child can eat it on the way to school if necessary.”

The importance of breakfast was proved in a study conducted jointly by Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE) at the Yale School of Public Health and the Rudd Center. It found that even if children have had breakfast at home, it was always good to have a second meal at school. The study looked into the lifestyle of 584 middle school students who were provided cost-free breakfast and lunches at their schools in various urban districts, for a period of two years. The results of the study went against the common concern of parents that a second breakfast at school could contribute to the habit of overeating among kids.

Breakfast The Netherlands' Princess Maxima has breakfast with students of an elementary school in Leidschendam during 'National School Breakfast', Nov. 1, 2012. Photo: Getty Images/ Stefan Rousseau

“Our study does not support those concerns,” said Jeannette Ickovics, the paper’s senior author, director of CARE, and a professor at Yale School of Public Health. “Providing a healthy breakfast to students at school helps alleviate food insecurity and is associated with students maintaining a healthy weight.”

“When it comes to the relationship between school breakfast and body weight, our study suggests that two breakfasts are better than none,” said Schwartz, who was one of the authors of the study.

Elaborating on the link between breakfast and obesity, Schwartz told IBT: “I don’t think breakfast itself plays a large role in childhood obesity. We found that children who skipped breakfast were at greater risk of weight gain over time, suggesting that skipping breakfast may be part of an overall less healthy dietary pattern.”

One-third of American children between the ages of 6 and 11 are overweight or obese. It was also observed that the ratio of obese children was higher among minorities like African-Americans and Hispanics than white children.

Breakfast Dhaija Smith, 4, finishes her milk during breakfast with her classmates at the Brown E. Moore Head Start Center in Shreveport, Louisiana, July 22, 2003. Photo: Getty Images/ Mario Villafuerte

However, the study also pointed out that keeping a close calorie watch on what the children were eating was also equally important, lest they consumed an unhealthy diet during their major meals.

This is the reason for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to improve the quality of meals served under the School Breakfast Program, a part of the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act 2010. As per the regulations of the act, students of more than 90 percent of public schools in the U.S. have access to more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein and low-fat dairy, as well as less sugar, fat, and sodium, when it comes to breakfast and lunch served at their institutions.

Apart from body weight, skipping breakfast also affects a child’s ability to concentrate during school hours. According to the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) it was observed that students who frequently attended school on an empty stomach had lower math scores, attention problems, issues with their behavior and emotions, and worse overall academic performance.