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Skipping Breakfast and Fast Food Consumption - Leads to Weight Gain

A new study published in the December 2006 issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health by researchers// at The Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center at The Miriam Hospital and Brown Medical School, suggests that as teens enter adulthood - they are more likely to skip breakfast and increase their fast food consumption - both behaviors leads to an increased risk of weight gain.

"Since the transition from adolescence to adulthood appears to be a particularly high-risk period for weight gain, we wanted to investigate what role skipping breakfast and fast food consumption had on weight during this important time," says lead author Heather Niemeier, PhD, a psychologist at The Miriam Hospital.

Researchers analyzed data drawn from Add Health, a school-based study of over 20,000 adolescents in grades 7 through 12 in the United States. The current study used information from two "Waves" of data that consisted of a total of 9,919 adolescents. Wave 2 data was collected from the adolescents (ages 11 to 21) during the period of April to August 1996. Wave 3 data was collected from the same group of adolescents from August 2001 to April 2002, when they were between the ages of 18 and 27. Fast food and breakfast consumption was measured throughout both waves, in addition to Body Mass Index (BMI).

"We found that both fast food consumption and breakfast skipping significantly increased between Waves 2 and 3. More importantly, both behaviors were associated with increased weight gain during this time," says Niemeier.

During the five-year interval between Waves 2 and 3, signifying the transition from adolescence to adulthood, the number of participants considered overweight increased from 29 percent to 47 percent. Fast food consumption increased from 2 days a week as adolescents to about 2.5 days per week as young adults, and although participants reported that they consumed breakfast 4 to 5 days per week during adolescence - this decreased to
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