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Regular Intake of Breakfast Helps Reduce Food Craving and Overeating

First Posted: Oct 16, 2014 06:56 AM EDT

Researchers have found definitive evidence that regular intake of breakfast helps reduce food craving and overeating later in the day.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most teens avoid taking their breakfast due to which they are more likely to overeat later in the day, further leading to unnecessary weight gain. According to the statistics, the number of adolescents battling obesity has quadrupled in the last three decades. Obesity is known to up the risk for chronic health problems. But in the latest study, the researchers provide solution to avoid the unnecessary weight gain.

Researchers at the University of Missouri found that eating breakfast that is rich in protein helps in elevating the levels of brain chemicals that is linked with the feeling of reward, which further lowers food cravings and overeating later in the day. Only by understanding the brain chemicals and their role in food craving that one can offer improvements in prevention of obesity including treatment.

"Our research showed that people experience a dramatic decline in cravings for sweet foods when they eat breakfast," said Heather Leidy, an assistant professor of nutrition and exercise physiology. "However, breakfasts that are high in protein also reduced cravings for savory - or high-fat - foods. On the other hand, if breakfast is skipped, these cravings continue to rise throughout the day."

In this study, the researchers looked at the effects of different breakfast on the levels of the participants' dopamine, the brain chemical involved in moderating impulses and reward including food craving. It was by measuring homovanillic acid (HVA), the main dopamine metabolite, the researchers determined the levels of dopamine.

On consuming food, a certain amount of dopamine is released that stimulates feelings of food reward. It is this reward response that is an important part of eating as it helps control the intake of food.

In individuals who are overweight or obese, the levels of dopamine are less which means it requires more stimulation or food to produce feelings of reward. The similar response was seen within those who skip breakfast.

Leidy said, "To counteract the tendencies to overeat and to prevent weight gain that occurs as a result of overeating, we tried to identify dietary behaviors that provide these feelings of reward while reducing cravings for high-fat foods. Eating breakfast, particularly a breakfast high in protein, seems to do that."

The study included women aged 19. According to study reports, in the United States people often skip breakfast and this is further associated with food cravings, overeating and obesity. In the last 50 years, there has been a dramatic drop in eating frequency and an increase in obesity.

The study was published in the Nutrition Journal.

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