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Skipping Breakfast Might Not Make You Fat After All

You can stop lapsing into an anxious sweat every day you miss your morning bowl of cereal, fearing imminent morbid obesity, heart disease, or excruciating constipation.
Hilary Pollack
Los Angeles, US
August 11, 2015, 6:30pm

Much like the seemingly neverending arguments about the "eight glasses of water" rule or the "three meals a day" rule, researchers just can't seem to make up their minds about whether or not breakfast is truly "the most important meal of the day."

Come on—that's a pretty hefty claim. That your bacon-egg-and-cheese-on-a-roll is somehow most integral to your health and psyche than your midday burrito (or kale salad)? How could a short stack of pure carbohydrates supercede the glory of a dinner table strewn with plates of sizzling Szechuan? Give us a break.


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And, it seems, researchers just might be. You can stop lapsing into an anxious sweat every day you miss your morning bowl of cereal, fearing imminent morbid obesity, heart disease, or excruciating constipation. It turns out, breakfast isn't really doing you any favors, other than making you less hungry for a couple of hours.

According to the Washington Post, the pending update of the federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans has revived the controversy about this issue. You're probably already familiar with the DGA in the form of the colloquial "food pyramid," which is now known as MyPlate after a makeover in 2011. The guidelines inform school lunch plans, diet-related health campaigns, and other government-ordained programs.

Up until now, the DGA has recommended eating breakfast every day under the notion that "not eating breakfast has been associated with excess body weight." And in all fairness, such an association has definitely popped up in studies here and there, and more importantly, been widely disseminated through word of mouth and quote-unquote "common knowledge."

But the problem is, it hasn't necessarily been proven as far as true science is concerned. And more recent studies have straight up conflicted with the claim, such as a University of Alabama at Birmingham Nutrition Obesity Research Center study from last year that found that skipping breakfast had no impact on weight loss. Ditto a 2013 study from Vanderbilt University, which concluded that all breakfast does is tack additional calories onto your daily tally, resulting in possible weight gain, if anything.


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And in another study from 2014, Columbia researchers dared utter the following: "In overweight individuals, skipping breakfast daily for 4 weeks leads to a reduction in body weight."

Lies. Lies. Lies. We have been fed so many waffles, and so many lies.

So how will the Dietary Guidelines shift in the wake of this revelation about the insidious deception that has been urging all of us to force-feed ourselves in the early hours of the day? Well, in addition to chilling out about the demonization of eggs for its high cholesterol content, the feds are also reconsidering their stance on salt and fat. All of which, of course, is breakfast-related. Has there ever been a fattier, saltier, eggier meal than Eggs Benedict?

The last review of the meal's merits was in 2010, but much has happened since in the realm of breakfast research. And a significant amount of the data that was examined by the Dietary Guidelines committee during that round came from observation studies, which are not always the most accurate. They opted to stand by the ol' breakfast rule and try to get some oatmeal into America's bowls.

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But the aforementioned studies from the past three years hold more weight—pun possibly intended—than older, more anecdotal claims about breakfast being the key to weight loss success. So when the 2015 Dietary Guidelines are revealed, voila, you just might find that we're off the hook. Or perhaps that breakfast's necessity is no longer so strongly emphasized.

Overall diet will likely be a much more important focus. After all, you can eat a bowl of greens and quinoa three meals a day and probably do A-OK. Not sure if the same could be said for a mountain of French toast.