MEDICAL MYTHS: Skipping Breakfast Aids Weight Loss

PARIS, France – The common adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day may or may not be true, but it seems unlikely that skipping the morning meal aïds weight loss.

The rational behind this strategy is that missing one meal a day leads to a lower overall intake of calories. However, the story is not so straightforward.

One study published in 2010, analyzed food intake information from 2,184 people aged 9 – 15 years. Twenty years later, the researchers asked for the same information again.

They compared data from people who had skipped breakfast during childhood and adulthood with data from those who had never skipped breakfast or had done so only in adulthood.

Compared with the other groups, the participants who skipped breakfast during both childhood and adulthood tended to have larger waist circumferences, higher fasting insulin levels, and higher total cholesterol levels.

Sometimes, people who skip breakfast eat more during the rest of the day to counteract the deficit. But one 2013 study, found that missing breakfast does not lead to eating more at lunch. The authors conclude that ‘Skipping breakfast may be an effective means to reduce daily energy intake in some adults’.

However, these researchers only monitored the participants’ food intake at lunch, not dinner. And the study only included 24 participants, so we should be wary of drawing solid conclusions from the findings.

A much larger 2007 study, which involved more than 25,000 adolescents, looked for links between skipping breakfast and having overweight. The researchers also assessed the roles of alcohol intake and levels of inactivity.

The scientists found that skipping breakfast had a stronger association with overweight than either alcohol consumption or levels or inactivity.

A 2020 systematic review and meta – analysis that appears in the journal Obesity Research & Clinical Practice concurs. After analyzing the results of 45 previous studies, the authors concluded:

‘Skipping breakfast is associated with overweight / obesity, and skipping breakfast increases the risk of overweight . obesity’.

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