Published: Fri, February 01, 2019
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

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

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

Despite what we've been told for years, breakfast is not the most important meal of the day for weight loss or to prevent the onset of hunger.

People who ate breakfast ended up eating about 260 calories more a day, the review found. People who skipped breakfast were about one pound lighter than those who ate breakfast.

Commenting on the results, Dr Frankie Phillips, registered dietitian for the British Dietetic Association, said: "Whilst some studies do show that people who eat breakfast tend to be a healthier weight, there is no clear benefit of starting to eat breakfast just as a tool to lose weight".

Scientists from the Monash University in Melbourne looked at 13 controlled trials of mostly United Kingdom and USA subjects from over the past 28 years, and analysed the data. "If a person is trying to lose weight or manage their calorie intake there's no evidence that changing their dietary plan to eat breakfast will help them".

More damning, it even found some evidence that skipping breakfast entirely would be better for our waistlines - although you should probably find better ways to stay fit.

They said eating breakfast regularly could have other important effects such as improved concentration and attentiveness levels in children.

But the reviewers found "no significant difference" in metabolic rates between breakfast eaters and skippers.

But the effect of breakfast on weight did not differ between people with a normal weight and those who were overweight.

What's more, the scientists concluded skipping breakfast does not reduce appetite during the day, as previously thought. But he said the findings suggested it was "just another diet myth".

The researchers also noted that the current review also included some low quality studies, and advise caution when interpreting the results. Few of the studies blinded the volunteers, meaning they knew if they were eating breakfast or not.

Habitual and non-habitual breakfast eaters were studied while test subjects with a range of body weights were assessed over periods ranging from 24 hours to 16 weeks. "Interestingly we found this to be the case regardless of established breakfast habit". Some of the trials tested if adding or skipping breakfast could affect weight; others looked at whether breakfast would affect a person's total calories in a day.

She said that around 80% of people in Ireland don't eat enough fibre and she said she would have "a huge concern if people suddenly cut it out".

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

Eating breakfast won't make you slim if you're knocking back a bowl of sugar disguised as cereal, or a full English (which can tally at 800-1000 calories, far above the 200-400 in a serving of cereal).

Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King's College London, said the mantra of breakfast being the most important meal of the day had been ingrained in most people from childhood and reinforced by campaigns such as "go to work on an egg".

'While waiting for guidelines to change, no harm can be done in trying out your own personal experiments in skipping breakfast'.

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