A research study by Nickelodeon has found young people have great leeway in deciding when and what they will eat throughout the day -- and that only half of them report eating breakfast every day.
"The Kids, Food and Eating Behaviors Study" reflects data from kids and parents on attitudes and behaviors which affect food choices and eating among children 6-14. Some of these findings include:
- A majority of kids have autonomy today in deciding what and when to eat during the day.
- Only 50% of children report they eat breakfast every day.
- Only 39% of kids consistently eat three meals per day.
- 74% of young people say they choose what they eat for breakfast all or most of the time.
- There is a disconnect between children and parents when it comes to eating behavior. Kids report having greater freedom over their eating behaviors than their parents report.
- 68% of parent's say their children regularly eat breakfast; only 50% of the children say they regularly eat breakfast.
- 44% of the young people say they choose what they eat for breakfast all the time; 31% of parents say their children regularly choose what they eat for breakfast.
- Young people who skip meals have significantly higher body mass indexes (BMI) than those who eat breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday.
To address some of the specific research findings, Nickelodeon will unveil a series of new public service announcements (PSAs), which focus on the importance of starting the day by eating a balanced breakfast. The first spot, entitled "The Day the Earth Skipped Breakfast," from Nick's How to be Well PSA series, addresses how eating breakfast provides energy and fuels muscles, but skipping breakfast leads to bad temperaments and sluggish behavior.
The second spot, entitled "It's Breakfast Time" and animated by Klasky Csupo (Rugrats), features animated utensils rhyming and singing about breakfast foods as needed sources of energy for the start of the day. The various PSAs will run throughout the day, and additional spots will continue to rollout over the next few months.
"Kids are smart, and we have learned over the years that if you empower them with information they will act on it," said Cyma Zarghami, president, Nickelodeon Television. "The fact is that in today's hectic world, many kids are skipping breakfast. These spots will air daily right at breakfast time and will hopefully get more kids to the table."
"Your body needs energy, so eating a healthy breakfast is a great way to start the day because it fuels the muscles and the brain," Lisa Sasson, registered dietician and assistant clinical professor at NYU, Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health. "Studies show that kids who eat a healthy breakfast eat less throughout the day, have a more nutritious diet overall, perform better in school, and are more focused, active and alert."
"The Kids, Food and Eating Behaviors Study" and the breakfast PSAs are two components of Nickelodeon's multifaceted approach to address kids' health and wellness issues. The network, currently in its third year of its award-winning prosocial initiative "Let's Just Play," recently announced the second annual Worldwide Day of Play where the network will go dark on October 1 to engage kids in healthy and fun activities.
The first-ever Worldwide Day of Play held in 2004, resulted in participation from more than 1,800 grassroots organizations and 250,000 kids. "Let's Just Play" employs Public Service Announcements featuring Denzel Washington, Hillary Duff, Clay Aiken and others, community events, partnerships and grassroots efforts to reinforce the pure value of play, and to challenge community infrastructures to support reinvestment in recreational resources for kids.
On air, the network has committed $20 million and 10% of its air to health and wellness messaging. Nick Jr. is currently airing its "Power Play Summer," including interstitial programming with themes like “Love to Dance,” “Love to Get Up and Go,” and “Love to Move,” and incorporating messages to kids such as “Get Up, Get Out and Go Play.” The regular preschool block programming also incorporates the Nick Jr. "Power Play Meter," an on-screen meter that measures the activity level of preschoolers at home to continuously encourage kids to keep the activity going while watching TV.
Nick News specials on nutritional literacy have also run on air, along with a variety of health and wellness PSAs that were introduced last year. The network also employs healthy messaging in its Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. Family magazines, and on its Websites Nick.com and Nickjr.com.
The Kids, Food and Eating Behaviors Study was designed to provide information on attitudes and behaviors affecting food choices and eating among kids 6-14. The study is nationally representative of kids 6-14 and parents of kids in this age group. Specific details of methodology are available upon request.