Skip the latest study on breakfast but don’t forego the meal

Why was this study even published?

© Fragles | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

If you’ve heard the latest research on breakfast and are now tempted to run out the door without eating breakfast, forget about it. Ignore both the research and the notion that breakfast skipping is a smart idea.

It’s not.

Breakfast remains as the most important meal of the day.

But here we go again: so-called scientific studies that are supposed to help further nutrition research when all that’s done is to add to the confusion rather than providing meaningful information to help you make healthy choices.

First, here’s some background about the study. Its purpose was to examine the effect of regular breakfast consumption on weight change and energy intake in people living in high income countries using what is called a meta-analysis or a review of a number of different studies.

The authors chose 13 studies published between 1990 and 2018 and compared the body weights and caloric intake in adults who ate breakfast with those who skipped that first meal of the day. They found that those who ate breakfast consumed more calories and weighed more than those who skipped breakfast.

Since I don’t want to waste your time on this research, here’s a  key fact:  all the studies included didn’t assess what people actually ate. So if you had a doughnut or a bagel and coffee that was considered breakfast. In some of the other studies, refined breakfast cereals such as quickly digested rice cereal along with a “chocolate covered cookie” were among the breakfast test foods.

The authors note in their paper the following, “As the quality of the included studies was mostly low, the findings should be interpreted with caution.” They concluded with, “Further randomised controlled trials of high quality are needed to examine the role of breakfast eating in the approach to weight management.”

As my kids used to say, “Duh”.

Why on earth, if the researchers knew that the quality of the studies was low, did they do this review?

As for what they measured – calories consumed and body weight – if the researchers wanted to add to the evidence about eating breakfast, why didn’t they look at other measures than those dealing with our fixation on calories and bodyweight? Yes, they were concerned about the rise in obesity but why not choose other key outcomes such as nutrients consumed, energy levels through the day, fatigue, moods, nighttime nibbling and cravings? After all, if breaking the fast in the morning with a balanced meal leaves you energized and more productive with fewer cravings all day long, reaching for nutritious eats will more come naturally and healthy eating won’t be a drag.

Photo by Alyssa Schwartz

Also keep in mind that a balanced breakfast need not be time consuming to make. But being prepared can make breakfast much more irresistible. Just check out my Roasted Tomato, Ricotta and Egg Open-Faced Sandwich.


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Categories: Nutrition News, Rosie's Rants

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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4 Comments on “Skip the latest study on breakfast but don’t forego the meal”

  1. Christine Veziina
    February 6, 2019 at 10:45 am #

    Surprising that such a study should have been undertaken… It is the first time ever I hear that breakfast goes with weight gain… When I was teaching, we had a breakfast club for children who came to school on an empty stomach. It has been proven that students cannot concentrate and learn without breaking the fast. Who were those jokers undertaking to publish such results??? And not checking out what people ate???

  2. February 6, 2019 at 12:22 pm #

    I agree with you, Christine, that it is amazing that this study was done. It’s actually infuriating as the authors themselves say that the data included was of poor quality. There are so many benefits to eating a balanced breakfast and then these so-called scientists come along and try to confuse people. Grrr!

  3. Mike Daniels
    February 12, 2019 at 6:03 pm #

    Lol..speaking of confusing people, how do you explain the Canada food guide?(any era) Grrr!

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