Eating breakfast 'not a good strategy' for weight loss, study claims

01 February, 2019, 08:25 | Author: Lillian Steele
  • Breakfast at Quo Vadis

A new study has found that breakfast probably isn't the most important meal of that day and that dieters may have better luck losing weight if they skip the meal.

The team from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, analysed the effect of regularly eating breakfast on weight change and daily energy intake, based on evidence from 13 studies, mainly in Britain and the United States, from the last 28 years. Five trials included overweight participants, the remaining had people with any range of body weight.

They found that breakfast eaters consumed more calories overall and breakfast skippers did not have a greater appetite in the afternoon.

The researchers found that total daily energy intake was higher in groups who ate breakfast compared with those who skipped it - an average of 260 more calories consumed in a day - regardless of their usual breakfast habits.

Breakfast eaters also weighed, on average, nearly half a kilogram more (0.44kg) compared to non-breakfast eaters.

However, the researchers did note that eating breakfast regularly could have other important effects aside from weight loss, such as improved concentration and attentiveness levels in children.

"This review questions the recommendation for breakfast consumption" to help with weight loss, the researchers, from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, wrote in the January 30 issue of the journal The BMJ.

Indeed, the researchers cautioned that numerous studies included in the review had notable limitations.

"Currently, the available evidence does not support modifying diets in adults to include the consumption of breakfast as a good strategy to lose weight".

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Still, at the very least, the results suggest that caution is needed when recommending breakfast for people trying to lose weight, "as it could have the opposite effect", the researchers said.

Prof Cicuttini tells SBS the researchers also conducted sub-analyses, eliminating data from the Japanese study to see if a person's culture impacted the relationship between breakfast consumption, weight and metabolism.

"I don't feel the findings are robust enough to recommend [skipping breakfast] as a weight-loss strategy for most people", Hunnes told Live Science.

"We are not talking about breakfast being the cause of obesity", he said.

So, should we be having small breakfasts instead of large meals and perhaps start the day as Italian or French culture dictates, with a simple coffee and pastry or piece of bread, and enjoy a large lunch instead?

"But plan what you have as it's far better to take breakfast with you than to grab a chocolate muffin and a latte from the nearest coffee shop when you get hungry later". People who always eat breakfast shouldn't be discouraged from doing so, she said.

Professor Tim Spector, of King's College London, discussing the findings, said that people have different preferences for when they eat food, which 'might suit our unique personal metabolism'. Some people like breakfast and some don't.

"Prescriptive, slow-moving diet guidelines filled with erroneous information look increasingly counterproductive and detract from important health messages".

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Try mashing avocado on toast for a light healthy breakfast What is a healthy breakfast?

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