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Eating breakfast not a good strategy to lose weight, study claims

Stephen Padilla
08 Feb 2019
It is a commonly-held assumption that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it could inadvertently be doing the body harm.

Breakfast consumption does not seem to be a good approach for weight loss, regardless of established eating habit, suggest the results of a systematic review and meta-analysis. Caution must be observed when recommending breakfast for weight loss in adults due to its potential opposite effect.

“[T]he available evidence does not support modification of diets in adults to include the consumption of breakfast as a good strategy to lose weight,” researchers said. “We also found that overall, modifying diets to include breakfast consumption was associated with an increase in total daily calories.”

A total of 13 trials were included, of which seven investigated the effect of eating breakfast on weight change, and 10 examined the impact on energy intake. A small difference in weight was observed, favouring participants who skipped breakfast (mean difference, 0.44 kg; 95 percent CI, 0.07–0.82). However, some inconsistencies were seen across trial results (I2, 43 percent). [BMJ 2019;364:l42]

Even with considerable inconsistency across trial results (I2, 80 percent), participants who skipped breakfast had a lower total daily energy intake compared with those who had breakfast (mean difference, 259.79 kcal/day; 78.87–440.71).

There was high or unclear risk of bias in at least one domain in all of the included trials, which also had only short-term follow-ups (mean period, 7 weeks for weight, 2 weeks for energy intake). The quality of the studies was mostly low; thus, caution should be observed when interpreting the findings, according to researchers.

“While breakfast has been advocated as the most important meal of the day in the media since 1917, there is a paucity of evidence to support breakfast consumption as a strategy to achieve weight loss, including in adults with overweight or obesity,” they said. [Good Health 1917:52;389; www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/resource/breakfast]

“Although eating breakfast regularly could have other important effects, such as improved concentration and attentiveness levels in childhood, caution is needed when recommending breakfast for weight loss in adults, as it could have the opposite effect,” they added. [Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 1998;152:899-907; J Am Diet Assoc 2005;105:743-760]

In this study, researchers accessed PubMed, Ovid Medline and Cinahl for randomized controlled trials published between January 1990 and January 2018 investigating the effect of breakfast on weight or energy intake. They also searched ClinicalTrials.gov and the World Health Organization’s International Clinical Trials Registry Platform in October 2018 to identify any registered yet unpublished trials.

Included trials were those from high-income countries in adults comparing breakfast consumption with no breakfast consumption that had a measure of body weight or energy intake. Two independent reviewers extracted the data and evaluated the risk of bias in included studies. Researchers performed random effects meta-analyses of the effect of breakfast consumption on weight and daily energy intake.

“Further high quality randomized controlled trials are needed to substantiate whether those individuals seeking to lose weight should skip or consume breakfast and the role of breakfast eating in an overall weight management approach,” researchers noted.

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Most Read Articles
4 days ago
Cardiac biomarkers are useful for identifying community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) patients with an elevated risk of early and long-term cardiovascular (CV) events, according to a study.
2 days ago
Tofogliflozin is safe and effective for elderly patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), regardless of insulin and oral antidiabetic drugs, reports a new Japan study.
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