TUESDAY, Feb. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Teenagers, generally not renowned for their good eating habits, tend to have healthier weights and snacking habits when they start the day with breakfast, researchers report.

This takes on added importance, the study authors noted, when the teen is also a mom because she becomes a role model for her children.

The study, which involved 1,330 teen mothers in 27 states, found that those who ate breakfast six or seven days a week consumed far fewer calories from sweet and salty snacks and from sweetened drinks, and had a lower body mass index than those who ate breakfast fewer than two days a week.

Regular breakfast eaters consumed more fruits, vegetables, milk, water and cereal as a snack, said study co-author Debra Haire-Joshu, a professor and director of the Center for Obesity Prevention and Policy Research at the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis.

The findings were published in the current issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Teen mothers "control the food environment for their child," Haire-Joshu noted in a university news release.

"Thus, patterns exhibited by the mothers, including lack of breakfast and high-risk sweetened drink and snacking behavior, might influence the intake of their young child," she said. "Over time and left unchanged, these behaviors are reinforced as the child observes that parent and has access to high-risk foods in their environment."

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about teen parents.