Breakfast might not be most important meal of the day

The theory that breakfast is the most important meal of the day  including for dieters  may not be true, research suggests
The theory that breakfast is the most important meal of the day including for dieters may not be true, research suggests

The theory that breakfast is the most important meal of the day – including for dieters – may not be true, research suggests.

A review of studies found that eating breakfast does not appear to help people lose weight and should not necessarily be recommended as a weight-loss strategy.

Previous studies have suggested that eating breakfast revs up the metabolism and can help dieters stop overeating later in the day.

The British Dietetic Association (BDA) says research shows that “people who eat breakfast have more balanced diets than those who skip it, are less likely to be overweight (and) lose weight more successfully if overweight”.

But a new review sheds doubt on this idea. It also challenges studies that suggest skipping breakfast can disrupt the body’s internal clock and lead to weight gain.

Experts from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, examined 13 studies related to breakfast and weight in high-income countries, including the UK.

The pooled results found a very small difference in weight between those who ate breakfast and those who did not, with those who skipped breakfast on average 0.44kg lighter.

Those who ate breakfast also ate more calories per day – about 260 more on average.

Thus people who skipped breakfast did not compensate by eating more later in the day, the review found.

The researchers also found no significant difference in metabolic rates between breakfast eaters and skippers – suggesting there is no evidence that eating breakfast may help with weight loss due to “efficient” burning of calories earlier in the day.

The authors said the overall quality of the studies was low and more research is needed.

Writing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), they said: “This study suggests that the addition of breakfast might not be a good strategy for weight loss, regardless of established breakfast habit.

“Caution is needed when recommending breakfast for weight loss in adults, as it could have the opposite effect.”

They added: “Further high quality randomised controlled trials are needed to substantiate whether those individuals seeking to lose weight should skip or consume breakfast and the role of breakfast eating in an overall weight management approach.”