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Breakfast habits of adolescents : towards meaningful lessons Engelsjord, Lynn


Purpose: This study examines the influences and reasons that contribute to the breakfast habits of adolescents, aged 13-14 years. Methodology: Eighty-two boys and seventy-one girls completed a questionnaire that inquired about their breakfast eating habits. Statistical analysis was conducted to find frequency counts and cross tabulations between factors that influence eating habits. From this group of 153 students, seventeen students participated in individual taperecorded interviews that discussed their typical breakfast habits. Influences and reasons for the breakfast habits were discussed. Meanings for breakfast, health and nutrition were discussed as well. Findings: From the questionnaire, 130 students (69 boys and 61 girls) reported having breakfast on the questionnaire day, and 70.6% of the students reported having breakfast almost always during the week. The breakfast eaters reported making breakfasts that consist of cereal and milk and the interviewed students had similar habits. Presence of another person did not influence the variety of food consumed. A significant difference was noted when the breakfast was selected and prepared by mothers, when the number of food groups increased to three, usually through the addition of the meat and alternative group. The mothers most often made breakfast for their sons. Fathers had a low involvement. The interviewed students talked about quick, convenient weekday breakfasts and more elaborate family breakfasts on the weekend. Fifteen of the students thought of their diets as healthy but reported that they could improve them. Students reported what breakfast means to them by describing traditional breakfast foods. The foods described also matched their favourite breakfasts and their weekday breakfast. Students talked about general health and nutrition ideas such as variety and moderation, and healthy and unhealthy foods. Students expressed that the advantages of breakfast eating outweighed the disadvantages and they expressed that they would continue to eat breakfast in the future. Conclusion: Students are making breakfasts that are quick and convenient on weekdays that usually consist of cereal and milk. Weekend breakfasts usually contained more food groups and are shared with family and friends. The main influence on their breakfast is who selects and prepares their breakfast. Students stated that the advantages of breakfast eating outweigh the disadvantages. Students suggested that food is associated with age or stage and has different meanings at these different times.

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