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Wednesday, 3 January, 2001, 12:30 GMT
Skipped meals health risk
Breakfast
Many people do not bother with breakfast
Many people skip meals because the frantic pace of modern life means they are too busy to eat, a survey has found.

Experts warn that this could put people's health at risk.

The research, by the supermarket chain Sainsbury, found that nearly 70% of people regularly miss at least one meal a day.

For more than a third of these people the missing meal is breakfast.

Six out of ten people surveyed said they were simply too busy to stop to eat.

Young people were most likely to miss out - 87% of 16 to 24-year-olds said they skipped at least one meal a day.

Growing concern

Gill Fine, a nutritionist for Sainsbury, said: "The nation's habit of skipping meals, especially within the younger generation, is becoming a growing concern.

"By skipping a meal, we may be more open to temptation because we are hungry.

"Self-control can go out of the window so those high fat or sugary snacks become even more appealing.

"Establishing a healthy eating and fitness regime at a young age offers long term health benefits."

Colette Kelly, a nutrition scientist for the British Nutrition Foundation, said eating breakfast was particularly important.

"The body needs glucose first thing in the morning after fasting through the night, particularly the brain which needs it to concentrate.

"There are studies which show that a child that has eaten breakfast performs better throughout the day at school than a child that has not."

Ms Kelly said it was best to eat little and often, and to have a varied diet.

The survey, which covered 1,000 people of both sexes across the UK, also found that only a quarter of Britons ate the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

Middle-aged and older people ate more fruit and vegetables than the younger generations.

Only 13% of those questioned took exercise three times a week, as recommended by health experts, while 18% took no exercise at all.

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See also:

13 Dec 00 | Health
Men stick to junk food and beer
05 Dec 00 | Health
NHS 'faces 16bn obesity bill'
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