'Weighing In' on the Costs of Skipping Breakfast

First Posted: Jun 06, 2014 11:55 AM EDT

A healthy, hearty breakfast can provide you with much needed nutrients throughout the day, but it might not have much to do with weight loss. 

"Previous studies have mostly demonstrated correlation, but not necessarily causation," said study author Emily Dhurandhar, assistant professor in the Department of Health Behavior at University of Alabama Birmingham. "In contrast, we used a large, randomized controlled trial to examine whether or not breakfast recommendations have a causative effect on weight loss, with weight change as our primary outcome."

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, indicates that those who regularly ate breakfast were just as likely to lose the same amount of weight as those who skipped the morning meal. Of course, eating breakfast has many health benefits. However, weight loss may not be one of them.

To examine this theory further, researchers conducted a trial of 309 adult participants who wanted to lose weight. They divided the participants into three groups. One received a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) pamphlet, titled "Let's Eat for the Health of it," which defined healthy and nutritious habits but did not mention breakfast. They were neither asked to eat breakfast or skip it.

The researchers also gave the same pamphlet to the second group and asked them to eat breakfast before 10 a.m. every day. Lastly, the third group was given the pamphlet and asked to refrain from eating before 11 a.m.

Following a 16-week study period in which 283 of the 309 participants completed the study, researchers found that all participants lost about the same amount of weight.

The researchers conducted the trial on the participants for 16 weeks and took note of their weight during the study period.

However, some researchers caution against the study results. Regardless of breakfast's weight loss benefits, the body can greatly benefit from this meal's nutrition early in the day. 

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