Myth-busting study: Breakfast does not help you lose weight

1024px-Banana_on_pancakeLots of studies and lots of parents have extolled the virtues of eating breakfast, one of those virtues being that breakfast helps maintain your weight.

University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers now say they have debunked that myth.

“The field of obesity and weight loss is full of commonly held beliefs that have not been subjected to rigorous testing; we have now found that one such belief does not seem to hold up when tested,” David Allison, director of the UAB Nutrition Obesity Research Center and senior investigator on the project, said in a statement. “This should be a wake-up call for all of us to always ask for evidence about the recommendations we hear so widely offered.”

The study will certainly come as a shock to those thinking their Lucky Charms have magically delicious slimming qualities.

The UAB researchers had long suspected something might be awry with all of the studies associating breakfast with so many positive health outcomes — that it reduces diabetes and heart disease, improves memory and wards off obesity.

Last year, the researchers looked at more than 90 studies and found the literature was influenced by preconceived notions and bias, Allison said.

So UAB decided to take the next step with this study —  they went looking for evidence.

The new study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, looked at switching eating habits on weight loss in those trying to independently lose weight. The study occurred at 16 sites with 209 healthy but overweight and obese adults.

“Previous studies have mostly demonstrated correlation, but not necessarily causation,” said Emily Dhurandhar, UAB assistant professor in the Department of Health Behavior. “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.”

Experimental groups were told to eat or skip breakfast. The control group, consisting of breakfast eaters and skippers, was simply provided healthy nutrition information that did not mention breakfast.

Eating or skipping breakfast did not influence weight loss, the study found.
Dhurandhar said this finding should be examined in light of “evidence that breakfast may influence appetite and metabolism.”

Dhurandhar says they were testing breakfast in a general sense and therefore cannot conclude anything about a particular kind or quantity of breakfast food. Future studies might consider whether certain specific breakfast foods may have be more effective at encouraging weight loss.

“Now that we know the general recommendation of ‘eat breakfast every day’ has no differential impact on weight loss, we can move forward with studying other techniques for improved effectiveness,” Dhurandhar said. “We should try to understand why eating or skipping breakfast did not influence weight loss, despite evidence that breakfast may influence appetite and metabolism.”

By: Mike Oliver


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