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Bad breakfast habits could harm long-term health

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by Cancer Research UK | News

28 March 2008

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SKIPPING breakfast and snacking on sugary and fatty foods could be fuelling Britain’s rising obesity rates among the under 25s. A new survey commissioned by Cancer Research UK into the nation’s breakfast habits discovered that nearly half the 16-24 age group miss breakfast – the first and most important meal of the day – at least twice a week.

The survey, commissioned to raise awareness of the charity’s annual Britain’s Biggest Breakfast campaign, also showed that 85 per cent of under 25s questioned admitted to snacking, with fatty and sugary foods, such as crisps, biscuits, cakes and sweets favourites to keep mid-morning hunger at bay.

Professor Jane Wardle, director of Cancer Research UK’s health behaviour research centre, said: “There is still widespread ignorance that being overweight or obese increases the risk of a number of cancers. We know obesity rates are rising in the UK and research has shown that this trend begins early in life.

“Children who are overweight or obese are likely to grow into obese adults whose risk of cancer and other diseases is increased because of the extra weight they are carrying. This survey reflects the worrying trend that too many young people miss breakfast only to resort to sugary and fatty snacks when they get hungry. These habits can be hard to break.”

Cancer Research UK carried out the survey of over 2,000 people to promote Britain’s Biggest Breakfast. The charity is calling for people across the UK to celebrate Britain’s Biggest Breakfast’s tenth anniversary by throwing a breakfast ‘party’ to raise money for research into all types of cancer.

TV presenter Amanda Hamilton, one of the UK’s leading nutritionists and Britain’s Biggest Breakfast supporter, said: “A healthy breakfast is important as part of a balanced diet and is an excellent way to start the day.

“This campaign is a great way of showing both parents and kids that healthy eating isn’t boring and hopefully it will encourage families to all sit down and eat breakfast together.”

Among those that skip breakfast, more than a third (37 per cent) claim the reason is lack of time.

But there is some good news about Britain’s breakfast habits. Only four percent of people opt for the traditional cooked breakfast. Instead, more than half (57 per cent) opted for cereal or porridge and a further 16 per cent chose toast as their preferred start to the day.

Experts estimate that about a quarter of all cancer deaths are caused by unhealthy diets and obesity. The event aims to show people how eating a healthy breakfast, as part of a balanced diet including plenty of fruit and vegetables, can help reduce your risk of cancer.

To find out more about how to get involved, visit Britain’s Biggest Breakfast


For further media information, please contact the Cancer Research UK Press Office on 020 3469 8315 or the out-of-hours duty press officer on 07050 264 059.