"The most important meal of the day" may not help people control their weight.
There is no good evidence to support the idea that eating breakfast promotes weight loss or that skipping breakfast leads to weight gain, finds a review published in The BMJ on Jan 30, 2019.
In fact, the findings show that daily calorie intake was higher in people eating breakfast and that skipping breakfast does not cause more appetite later in the day.
The researchers emphasize that the quality of studies was low, so the findings should be interpreted with caution, but say that their review questions the popular recommendation that eating breakfast can help with weight control.
Previous studies have suggested that eating breakfast is linked to maintaining healthy weight, but these findings have been observational and possibly reflect individual healthier lifestyles and choices.
So, a team from Monash University in Australia analyzed the effect of regular eating breakfast on weight changes and daily energy intake, based on evidence from 13 randomized controlled trials, mainly in the United States and United Kingdom, from the last 28 years.
Several trials focused on the relationship between eating or skipping breakfast and changes in body weight, while others looked at the effect of breakfast on daily energy intake.
Participants included habitual / non-habitual breakfast eaters, or both, at a range of body weights, which were monitored between 24 hours and 16 weeks.
The researchers found that total daily energy intake was higher in groups that eat breakfast compared to those who did it (average 260 more calories consumed per day), regardless of their usual breakfast habits.
And the results showed that those who were skipping breakfast were, in average, 0.44 kg lighter.
The effect of breakfast on weight did not differ between people with normal weight and those who were overweight.
It has previously been suggested that eating breakfast can help with weight loss due to efficient burning of calories early in the day, preventing overeating later on.
But reviewers found no significant difference in metabolic rates between breakfast eaters and skippers.
And despite the common belief, skipping breakfast was not linked to people feeling hungrier in the afternoon – or to differences in energy expenditure.
The authors point out that because of the varying quality of the included studies, the findings should be interpreted with caution.
However, they argue that "currently, the available evidence does not support modifying diets in adults to include breakfast consumption as a good strategy to lose weight."
"While eating a breakfast, it's important to have other important effects, and it's important to recommend breakfast for weight loss in adults, as they may have an opposite effect," they conclude.
In a related opinion piece, Dr Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King's College London, says that people have different preferences for when they eat food that "may suit our unique personal metabolism".
"No 'one size fits all', and prescriptive slow moving dieting guidelines filled with erroneous information look increasingly counterproductive and detract from important health messages.
"While waiting for guidelines to change, no harm can be done in trying out your own personal experiments in skipping breakfast," he concludes.
Copyright: The Online Online / Asia News Network