A big deal is made these days of whether families regularly eat dinner together, as if this will settle the fate of the nation’s children. The findings of a Weekly Reader poll of kids age 5-18 indicate that more attention should be paid to the first meal of the day. The problem isn’t that youngsters are breakfasting without the rest of the nuclear family in rapt attendance. Rather, it’s that many of them aren’t eating breakfast at all. While 69 percent said they eat breakfast every day, 15 percent do so only once in a while and 2 percent never do so. Another 5 percent said they eat breakfast only on weekends, while 10 percent do so only on school days. The chart below gives a breakdown for the teenage end of the survey’s respondent pool. As you can see, teenage boys are especially prone to abstaining from breakfast. In a breakdown of the data by ethnicity, Asian kids were the most likely to report that they eat breakfast just once in a while or never (20 percent), while Hispanic kids were the least likely to say so (11 percent). Naturally, the survey also asked kids how often the whole family has dinner together. While just 29 percent said the family dines together every night, 31 percent said it happens five or six nights a week. Nine percent said their whole family never has dinner together. In the dinnertime ethnic breakdown, black families were the most likely to say they dine together at least five nights a week (66 percent), followed by Hispanics (62 percent), whites (59 percent) and Asians (53 percent).
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