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Skipping Breakfast and Fast Food Consumption - Leads to Weight Gain

3 days per week by young adulthood.

The increase in fast food and breakfast skipping could be due to the increased independence and responsibility for food preparation that adolescents face during this developmental transition the authors note.

"Fast food is a quick, easy, and tasty option for aging adolescents who may be used to relying on Mom or Dad to prepare their meals," says Niemeier. "As adolescents enter the workforce or college, breakfast may be looked at as an unnecessary hassle and easily skipped. However, skipping breakfast can lead to greater levels of hunger later in the day, causing overeating, or the choosing of heavy foods that fill you up faster, but may not be very nutritious."

The authors write that since adolescent obesity is a significant predictor of overweight status in adulthood and poses a risk for adult morbidity and mortality, it is important to identify dietary behaviors early on that are associated with unhealthy weight gain in order to create effective interventions.

"This study highlights the importance of encouraging adolescents who are entering adulthood to eat breakfast regularly and to make healthy food choices, limiting their fast food consumption," says Niemeier.

The prevalence of obesity in adolescents and adults in the United States has increased dramatically over the past decade with the Surgeon General referring to it as a public health epidemic. Unhealthy weight increases during adolescence have been associated with fasting insulin, increased levels of HDL-cholesterol and risk factors for heart disease, and systolic blood pressure in young adulthood.

Future research should look at obtaining more detailed dietary information to better understand the mechanisms by which they influence weight gain.

"Including measures about specific types of fast food or breakfast alternatives consumed, and how they relate to the adolescent's overall energy intake and t
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