Scientist Says Making Kids Eat Breakfast Is 'Child Abuse'

kids eating breakfast

When it comes to what's best for kids, plenty of so-called experts have been known to offer conflicting advice. But now one biochemist has made a surprising claim that forcing kids to eat breakfast is a form of child abuse. Say what?


In his book Breakfast Is a Dangerous Meal, Professor Terence Kealey argues that parents shouldn't force their kids to eat breakfast. (What's next? Skip toothbrushing and shoelace tying?) 

What should moms and dads do instead, according to the professor?

"I would let the kids decide for themselves if they want breakfast," Kealey said, according to the Daily Mail. "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."

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Um, I think Kealey may want to revisit the definition of "child abuse," because if it's offering your child a waffle, granola parfait, or scrambled eggs, then I'm in big trouble!

Still, I get what he's saying in that if you're not hungry, you shouldn't be force-fed. I'm a big believer in listening to your body and waiting until you're hungry to eat. But, unfortunately, that's not always how life works. Sometimes it's easier to have a quick meal when you're not hungry, because you won't have a chance to eat later. For example, my child might not be starving at 7 a.m., but he eats breakfast then because he can't whip out a bowl of cereal or oatmeal in the middle of his 9 a.m. math class. 

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And what about all that talk of how it's the most important meal of the day? If you're hungry, it's very difficult to focus on anything but your stomach growling. You can also start to feel weak or dizzy, which often happens when I skip breakfast.

But, apparently, Kealey, who has type 2 diabetes, believes this practice could put kids at risk for the condition as well as obesity. You see, the Oxford-educated biochemist noticed that when he ate breakfast, his glucose levels spiked, but when he waited and ate later in morning or skipped breakfast entirely and then had lunch, his levels remained normal. 

For me, the take-away is this: If your child routinely refuses breakfast, perhaps there's more to it. Offering an apple, as Kealey suggests, is definitely a good idea. But, much like other parenting choices, this should be up to each mom and dad to decide what is best for their kids. 

There's also a big difference between "forcing" and "coaxing," and another thing to consider is finding out if your child really isn't hungry or just doesn't like your offerings. 

But, if you're looking for some good news in all this, you can stop preparing Vegas-style breakfast buffets if your family doesn't want or appreciate them. Doling out a piece of fruit as they head off to start their days sounds deliciously simple to me. 

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