Breakfast might not actually be that important


We have always been told that the most important meal of the day is breakfast and I remember my mother always yelling at me if I tried to skip it. But, experts are now claiming that there is little clinical evidence to justify the ‘good’ reputation breakfast has.

A senior lecturer in nutrition at the University of Bath, James Betts, disagrees that “eating breakfast like a king” is a good way to kickstart your metabolism for the day.

“The problem is that these benefits, although logical sounding, are largely ­assumptions based on observational studies and had never actually been tested,” Betts reveals in New Scientist magazine. “I was amazed when I started looking for evidence; I thought there would be a lot.”

Doctors have encouraged people, for a long time, to consume a third of their daily calories in the morning in order to lose weight, but this is now being refuted.

The Australian reports that John Harvey Kellogg introduced the notion of a health breakfast in order to sell more cereal, but since then hundreds of papers and research have claiming that skipping breakfast encourages unhealthy eating.

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However, Betts says these studies are largely observational and conducted his own study to determine the likelihood of healthy eating during the day based on breakfast choices.

The Australian reports that he asked one group of participants to eat a 700 calorie breakfast, while the other group consumed only water until lunch.

The group who skipped breakfast did eat more at lunch, but not enough to make up the 700 calories the others ate at breakfast. In addition, hormone tests revealed similar levels of hunger in both groups leading up to lunch, but those who had eaten breakfast were actually hungrier by mid-afternoon.

“As soon as a doctor finds out that an overweight patient skips breakfast they’ll often tell them to make sure they eat it every day,” Betts says. “But should we not know more about the health ­effects? We try not to give other health advice without evidence, so why are we more lax with breakfast?”

Peter Rogers is a psychology professor who specialises in nutrition and behaviour at the University of Bristol and he says, “Most of us could do with eating less. Given that it’s probably the easiest meal to skip, maybe skipping breakfast ­occasionally could be that ­opportunity.”

Do you eat breakfast?