Food and Nutrition

Breakfast Most Important Meal? Maybe Not

| by Mark Berman Opposing Views

We've heard it our entire lives: "Breakfast is- the most important meal of the day." Well, it turns out one new study says eating a big breakfast is the worst thing you can do for your waistline.

The conventional wisdom has always been that a good breakfast helps people avoid overeating during the rest of the day and boosts metabolism.

Nonsense, says one German researcher.

“Eating breakfast is just added calories. You’ll never compensate for them at subsequent meals,” Volker Schusdziarra, M.D., professor of internal medicine at the Technical University of Munich told The New York Times.

Dr. Schusdziarra analyzed 10 days worth of food journals kept by 380 people -- 280 of them obese and 100 of them normal weight. No matter what people ate in the morning, according to his report published in Nutrition Journal, they consumed roughly the same amount of food at lunch and dinner. Simply put, people who ate a bigger breakfast ate more calories the rest of the day than people who are a smaller breakfast.

Some nutrition experts think the study is dubious at best. They point out that it relies on food diaries, which are notoriously unreliable. Many people, especially obese people, say they eat less than they do.

Men's Health points out that in this study:

The participants reported eating a suspiciously low total number of calories. Obese subjects ate between 1,200 and 1,700 calories a day. Which begs the question, “How are they obese?” It’s possible that they weren’t accurately recording what they ate, or they changed their eating habits during the study—or both.

The study also did not take into account people's exercise habits or day-to-day routines.

“Suppose people who eat breakfast are those who do so because they then cycle or walk to work like I do every day,” says nutrition and obesity researcher Gavin Sandercock, Ph.D., of the University of Essex. “We simply don’t know what the participants were doing all day. This is a big limitation of the data presented.”

In fact, a 2005 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that adults who eat breakfast are more likely to be exercisers.

Another problem -- the study only looked at total calories, not a breakdown of carbs, fat, and protein. Past research has shown that it makes a difference whether someone eats a carb-heavy versus a high-protein breakfast.

In a 2005 study, researchers found that subjects ate 574 calories for lunch after a breakfast of eggs, toast, and jelly—but 738 calories after a breakfast of a bagel, cream cheese, and yogurt.

Whether or not this study is accurate, most experts agree you must eat something for breakfast. Previous studies show lifelong breakfast skippers have an extra 1.8 inches on their waist, on average, compared to people who have always eaten breakfast.