It begins with the parents. 

By Grace Elkus
Updated December 04, 2015
Muriel de Seze/Getty Images

We know, we know: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. As much as it’s repeated, it’s still advice many people choose to ignore. But researchers at the University of California say a little education may be the key to convincing people to finally eat their morning meal.

The study, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, surveyed 590 mothers from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Woman, Infants, and Children (WIC), an organization that provides nutritional information to more than 8 million mothers and children each year. More than half of the participants were randomly assigned to receive in-person group education, while the remaining 231 received online group education.

Texts and visuals were used to teach women in both groups how to incorporate breakfast into their morning routines and how to prepare healthier options. The women were advised to limit juice to 4 to 6 ounces per day, keep cereal sugar content to 6 grams or less, and choose fruit as a healthy breakfast option.

The participants also completed questionnaires that assessed their knowledge and attitudes toward breakfast. Their morning routines were assessed before the study began, after its completion, and once again 2 to 4 months later.

Following the class, both groups had less difficulty incorporating breakfast into their routine, and experienced fewer problems associated with time constraints, not having enough food, and preparation difficulty. Participants in the online group also began eating breakfast more frequently, and both groups were more informed about the benefits of breakfast.

Eating breakfast has been associated with better academic performance and managing weight, making these results significant. And if the education model is extended to families across the country, it has the potential to lead to significant behavior change. Ready to start cooking? Try these four quick recipes for a healthy breakfast.