From San Francisco, at the Experimental Biology 2006 meeting

Breakfast contributes significantly—and positively—to the quality of U.S. diets, a new survey finds. On average, it offers just 17 percent of the day’s calories but provides a quarter of the day’s recommended intake of dairy foods, 28 percent of the day’s recommended intake of fruit, 20 percent of recommended grains, and up to 30 percent of the recommended intake of most vitamins and minerals—independent of any dietary supplements taken in the morning.

However, the analysis shows, on any given day, one in five people forgoes this meal. About one-third of teens, 20-somethings, and blacks skip breakfast.

Ready-to-eat cereals, breads, and rolls top the breakfast list, with more than one in four people eating at least a serving of one of these on any given day. Milk was consumed by at least 40 percent of people surveyed. Coffee, the next-most-popular beverage, was downed by 44 percent of adults. Roughly 5 percent of U.S. residents, regardless of age, appear to get their morning pick-me-up another way—via soft drinks.

Kevin J. Kuczynski and his colleagues at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Beltsville (Md.) Human Nutrition Research Center scoured through a day’s worth of dietary data collected from more than 9,000 individuals in the What We Eat in America survey 4 or 5 years ago. Participants were selected to represent the U.S. population in terms of age, gender, race, and other demographic features.

Janet Raloff

Janet Raloff is the Editor, Digital of Science News Explores, a daily online magazine for middle school students. She started at Science News in 1977 as the environment and policy writer, specializing in toxicology. To her never-ending surprise, her daughter became a toxicologist.

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