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Does forcing breakfast provide any benefits?

Some people just don’t feel like eating breakfast, and these people are often lectured to for neglecting their health. But if you make breakfastskippers eat breakfast, what happens to their weight and activity levels?

Study under review: A randomized controlled trial to study the effects of breakfast on energy intake, physical activity, and body fat in women who are non-habitual breakfast eaters.

Introduction

Many people are familiar with the idea that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” However, there is much debate in the scientific community about how beneficial breakfast consumption is to energy balance and weight maintenance. While breakfast itself is not the sole factor contributing to weight maintenance, its omission or consumption does promote a series of physiological responses that can affect bodyweight.

To date, the research investigating the effect of breakfast on weight is conflicting. Some studies have shown associations or demonstrated that eating breakfast promotes increased satiety[1] and physical activity[2], decreased bodyweight[3] and BMI[4], and improved regulation of hunger hormones[5]. Others have demonstrated that eating breakfast has insignificant and potentially negative[6] effects on total daily energy intake. Factors[2] like macronutrient composition, caloric intake, and hormonal responses likely contribute to the inconsistent relationships observed between energy balance and breakfast. Thus, it is likely that the inconsistent findings reported in the breakfast literature stem from widespread differences in study designs and participant demographics.

It’s almost ironic that there is so much hype around the idea that, “breakfast jump starts the metabolism”; given that scientific evidence does not support this idea in both lean[7] and obese[8] individuals. Of course, due to the debatable role of breakfast consumption in the regulation of bodyweight, and anecdotal support that eating the meal is great for reducing appetite and improving body composition, it’s not hard to imagine how breakfast-skippers might consider adding breakfast to their daily routine.

Unfortunately for breakfast skippers, no studies were published prior to 2017 on the topic of how breakfast affects the weight of habitual breakfast skippers. That all changed recently though. In the study being reviewed, researchers examined for the first time the effect of breakfast consumption on the energy intake of habitual breakfast-skipping women and the effect of that additional meal on their physical activity, bodyweight, and body fat.

Breakfast has long been associated with healthy weight maintenance due to positive associations with energy balance, satiety, and physical activity. However, scientific evidence regarding these claims has been conflicting. The researchers conducting this study set out to determine how the addition of breakfast in habitual breakfast-skipping women affects energy balance.

Who and what was studied?

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