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Skipping Breakfast: Is it Really the Most Important Meal of the Day?

First Posted: Jul 29, 2013 09:27 AM EDT
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Despite what health experts have preached about the importance of breakfast, a new study published by Cornell University suggests that the 'most important meal of the day' may not be so important after all, when it comes to women losing weight.  

Previous research by the American Heart Association had shown that skipping breakfast could actually increase your risk of heart attack or even death from coronary heart disease, especially in women.

Yet, these recent findings suggest that eating more calories later in the day may be better for women.

"There's a fundamental belief that if you don't eat breakfast, you will compensate for the lost calories at lunch or later in the day. We've found that there is no caloric compensation in a normal group of eaters," said study senior author David Levitsky, Cornell professor of nutritional sciences and  psychology, in a press release. "If you skip breakfast, you may be hungrier, but you won't eat enough calories to make up for the lost breakfast." As a result, your total daily caloric intake will decrease.

Researchers examined just how much two groups of volunteers ate throughout the day, consisting of two groups--one that ate breakfast regularly and one that skipped the meal two or there times a week. Surprisingly, researchers found that even though the breakfast skippers were hungrier, they did not consume more food at lunch or dinner, as predicted. In fact, study results showed that they consumed 408 calories less.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that more than one-third of U.S. adults are obese (35.7 percent). Obesity-related conditions can include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some leading to preventable death, according to the organization. With statistics like these, it can be difficult to know what the right steps are in order to lose weight and maintain a healthy diet.

"I realize that skipping breakfast runs counter to common belief - that breakfast is an important meal for weight control, but the data do not support this view. Of course, these results apply to healthy adults - if you're diabetic or hypoglycemic, for example, you need to eat breakfast to maintain glucose levels," Levitsky said. "But generally, we must learn to eat less and occasionally skipping breakfast may be a reasonable way to accomplish this."

More information regarding the study can be found in the journal of Physiology and Behavior

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