Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day?
Most would agree that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The NHS insists that research shows that people who eat breakfast are slimmer because they tend to eat less over the course of the day, and in particular, snack less. Experts have previously warned that missing breakfast is a sure fire way to make people raid the snack drawer and pile on the pounds. Yet it seems there isn't conclusive evidence to back such claims.
Research conducted by the Bath Breakfast Project at the University of Bath in the U.K. examined breakfast consumption or morning fasting and used assessments of energy balance and health in an obese population. They found that neither obese people who eat breakfast, nor those who miss it, lost weight.
These are similar findings to the group's earlier study of lean people, who were found to have consumed in excess of 500 calories more a day on average if they ate breakfast.
"Despite strong public belief regarding the role of regular breakfast in human health, most evidence linking the omission of breakfast with negative health outcomes is based on cross-sectional associations and prospective cohort studies," wrote the authors.
Scientists add the evidence fits in with what others have been finding recently.
"Randomised controlled trials in free-living adults have begun to question the causal nature of these links between breakfast habits, components of energy balance, and health," they said.
The link between missing breakfast and overeating later is further contradicted by another randomised controlled trial of 283 people that found no difference in weight gain between those who ate breakfast and those who did not.
The breakfast issue is part of the ongoing debate around fasting, and researchers conclude that eating in the morning is a personal choice.
If you are not hungry, and especially if you are overweight, then don’t eat out of some notion that breakfast is essential. Breakfast is of course important for children, athletes, and for people who need to perform at their top capacity.
The research was first published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.