A breakfast high in protein - like eggs - keeps children fuller longer than cereal or oatmeal, causing them to eat fewer calories at lunch, says a new study.
"It is really important that we identify certain types of food that can help children feel full and also moderate caloric intake, especially in children who are prone to excess weight gain," said lead researcher Tanja Kral, associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing in the US.
The study, published in the journal Eating Behaviours, also found that the effects of a protein-rich meal do not last throughout the day. It only impacts a mid-day meal.
The study recruited forty, eight to 10-year-old children to consume one of three, 350-calorie breakfasts (eggs, oatmeal, or cereal), then play games with research staff and then eat lunch once a week for three consecutive weeks.
On each occasion, every participant had to eat their entire breakfast, but could eat as much or as little lunch as desired.
According to the research, after consuming the egg breakfast (scrambled eggs, whole wheat toast, diced peaches, and one percent milk) children reduced their energy intake at lunch by seventy calories - roughly equivalent to one small chocolate-chip cookie.
Moderately active children in the same age range as those who participated in the study generally need between 1,600 and 1,800 calories daily.
The 70-calorie drop at one meal equals about four percent of a child's daily caloric needs.
Eating beyond the caloric threshold, even by a little, can cause excess weight gain and obesity in children, if sustained, the researchers pointed out.