According to new research, teenagers who eat breakfast with their parents regularly are more likely to have a better overall body image of themselves than those who don't.
While breakfast was once lauded as the 'most important meal of the day', recent studies have put this up to debate - but it seems there may be another reason why breakfast has its benefits.
The new study from the University of Missouri (MU) found teenagers who consistently ate a morning meal with their parents were less likely to be affected by the detriments of social media and popular culture, by helping them form a healthy relationship with food from a young age.
Lead author of the study, which was recently published in Social Work in Public Health, and director of the MU Centre for Body Image Research and Policy, Virginia Ramseyer Winter says, "We know that developing healthy behaviours in adolescence such as breakfast every day and eating family meals can have long-term effects into childhood.
"Children and adolescents are under a lot of pressure from social media and pop culture when it comes to physical appearance.
"Having a healthy relationship with food from eating breakfast and spending meal time with family might have a significant impact on wellbeing," she adds.
In the age of social media, in particular Instagram, it's easy to let the picture-perfect images we see on our feeds affect how we view ourselves and our relationship with food, so you can only image how this can shape the thinking of young children and teens.
The researchers analysed data from more than 12,000 students in more than 300 schools across the US, looking at data related to eating behaviours, including frequency of eating breakfast and eating meals with parents.
The researchers found that eating breakfast during the week more frequently was associated with positive body image, and teens were even more likely to have a positive body image of themselves if they regularly ate breakfast with a parent.
"We know that the health behaviours of a parent can have long-term effects on a child," Ramseyer Winter says.
"Results of this study suggest that positive interactions with food – such as eating breakfast and having family meals together – could be associated with body image."
The study is part of the newly created Centre for Body Image Research and Policy, and interdisciplinary research centre house in the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences. The centre was built around the goal to improve body image, health and wellness for individuals, families and communities.
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