Take home message
As summarized by the American Institute for Cancer Research, "For those who don't like to eat breakfast, these studies do suggest that there's no harm for weight loss or metabolism in skipping that morning meal. Many can find a way to take in all the nutrients and healthful plant foods, without overeating, that are part of a cancer protective diet."
Although there is a correlation between not eating breakfast and body weight, correlation doesn't prove causation.
How scientists know
Health professionals noticed correlations between eating breakfast and health. So, they recommended eating breakfast.
But, the studies were correlations, which doesn't prove cause and effect. Did skipping breakfast cause health problems? Or was skipping breakfast an indication of an unhealthy lifestyle that lead to health problems?
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Breakfast, Weight and Metabolism September 3, 2014.
The relationship of breakfast and cereal consumption to nutrient intake and body mass index: the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Growth and Health Study. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, September 2005. Cereal consumption as part of an overall healthful lifestyle may play a role in maintaining a healthy BMI and adequate nutrient intake among adolescent girls.
Barr, Susan I and others.Association of breakfast consumption with body mass index and prevalence of overweight/obesity in a nationally-representative survey of Canadian adults. Nutrition Journal, March 31, 2016. BMI was lower for ready-to-eat-breakfast consumers than other breakfast consumers. Among Canadian adults, breakfast consumption was not consistently associated with differences in BMI.
Bellisle, France and others.Meal frequency and energy balance. British Journal of Nutrition, April 1997
Betts, James A and others.The causal role of breakfast in energy balance and health: a randomized controlled trial in lean adultsAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition, August 2014. This study found there was no difference in resting metabolic rate, appetite, body fat, or health indicators between people who ate or skipped breakfast.
Brown, AW and others.Belief beyond the evidence: using the proposed effect of breakfast on obesity to show 2 practices that distort scientific evidence, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 2013. The belief in the effect of breakfast on obesity exceeds the scientific evidence.
Choo, See Abstract: The effect of breakfast type on total daily energy intake and body mass index: results from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III). PDF The effect of breakfast type on total daily energy intake and body mass index: results from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES IIIJournalof the American College of Nutrition, August 2003. Concluded eating cereal is associated with a lower body mass when compared to skipping breakfast eating meat and eggs.
Chowdhury, Enhad and others.Carbohydrate-rich breakfast attenuates glycaemic, insulinaemic and ghrelin response to ad libitum lunch relative to morning fasting in lean adults The British Journal of Nutrition, July 14, 2015. 35 participants. Skipping breakfast was incompletely compensated lunch, breakfast increased some satiety hormones after lunch but abolished suppression of the orexigenic hormone gremlin, which may be mediated through reduced insulin response to a second meal.
Chowdhury, Enhad and others. The causal role of breakfast in energy balance and health: a randomized controlled trial in obese adults. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March 2016. There were no differences between groups I(eating or skipping breakfast) in weight change and most health outcomes, but insulin sensitivity increased with breakfast relative to fasting.
Dhurandhar,Emily J and others. The effectiveness of breakfast recommendations on weight loss: a randomized controlled trial American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, June 2014. A recommendation to eat or skip breakfast for weight loss changed self-reported breakfast eating habits, but had no discernable effect on weight loss of adults who were attempt to lose weight.
Kant, Ashima K. Association of breakfast energy density with diet quality and body mass index in American adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, 1999–2004.American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 2008.
Suggests breakfast is associated with diet quality and body weight.
Kant, Ashima K. and Barry I Graubard.Within-person comparison of eating behaviors, time of eating, and dietary intake on days with and without breakfast: NHANES 2005–2010.Journal of Clinical Nutrition, September 2015.
The eating time for lunch was earlier, and the lunch meal provided more energy on the no-breakfast day than on the breakfast day. Breakfast skippers may need encouragement to consume fruit and whole grains at other eating episodes. 2132 participants.
Leidy, Heather and others.Evaluating the Intervention-Based Evidence Surrounding the Causal Role of Breakfast on Markers of Weight Management, with Specific Focus on Breakfast Composition and SizeAdvances in Nutrition, May 2016 This is a review of evidence. Only the abstract is free online.
Leidy, Heather and others. Beneficial effects of a higher-protein breakfast on the appetitive, hormonal, and neural signals controlling energy intake regulation in overweight/obese, “breakfast-skipping,” late-adolescent girls. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, February 27, 2013. The study suggests that breakfast, particularly one high in protein, might improve satiety and improve the diet in overweight teenage girls.
Mayyasi, Alex. How breakfast known as the most important meal of the day.Priceonomics, May 9, 2016.
McCrory, Megan and Wayne W. Campbell. Effects Eating Frequency, Snacking, and Breakfast Skipping on Energy Regulation: Symposium Overview, The Journal of Nutrition, January 2011.
Pereira, Mark A and othersBreakfast Frequency and Quality May Affect Glycemia and Appetite in Adults and ChildrenThe Journal of Nutrition, January 2011. Breakfast consumption is associated with lower BMI in adults in a number of cross-sectional studies. Breakfast may impact appetite control, blood sugar, and insulin.
Schlundt, DG and others.The role of breakfast in the treatment of obesity: a randomized clinical trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March 1992.
Breakfast helped reduce dietary fat and minimize snacking. Therefore, it may be an important part of a weight-reduction program. Study limited to 52 women.
Schusdziarra, Impact of breakfast on daily energy intake - an analysis of absolute versus relative breakfast calories. Nutrition Journal, January 17, 2011
Reduced breakfast energy intake is associated with lower total daily intake; overweight subjects should consider reducing breakfast calories.
Smith, Kylie J. and others. Skipping breakfast: longitudinal associations with cardiometabolic risk factors in the Childhood Determinants of Adult Health Study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, December 2010
Conclusion: Skipping breakfast over a long period may have detrimental effects on cardiometabolic health. Promoting the benefits of eating breakfast could be a simple and important public health message.
USDA, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, Nutrition Insight 45: Breakfast Consumption, Body Weight, and Nutrient Intake: A Review of the Evidence. USDA, November 2011.
Williams, Peter. The Benefits of Breakfast Cereal Consumption: A Systematic Review of the Evidence Base1 Advances in Nutrition, September 2014.
The Australian Breakfast Cereal Manufacturers Forum commissioned this review of studies related consumption of breakfast cereals. It states regular breakfast cereal consumers have higher intakes of carbohydrate, sugars, micronutrients, and milk. It also states that they have lower intakes of fat, cholesterol, and have lower serum cholesterol concentrations.