Think Twice Before Skipping Breakfast

Obese people who ate breakfast were more active in the morning


If you carry a few extra pounds around you may be tempted to skip breakfast, which might not be a good idea.

A study from the University of Bath looked at the link between eating breakfast and health in obese individuals. The researchers found obese people who ate breakfast were more active in the morning and ate less during the day.

The Bath researchers have completed several studies on the effects of eating breakfast. Their previous research focused on people of normal weight, but for this research they wanted to explore the effects of breakfast on health.

Researchers split the 21-to 60-year-old study participants into two groups.

The first group ate at least 700 calories by 11 AM. The first half of the calories had to be eaten within two hours of waking. Participants could eat whatever they wanted.

The second group drank water but ate no food until noon.

The researchers followed these groups for six weeks. Neither group lost weight. However, the breakfast group was more active compared to the fasting group.

The breakfast group also showed increased insulin sensitivity. Insulin is the hormone that regulates blood sugar.

Those in the fasting group ate more calories later in the day compared to the breakfast group.

Dr. Betts and colleagues noted that their study has several important implications.

First, eating breakfast helps promote insulin sensitivity. This is important because insulin resistance is a hallmark of type 2 diabetes.

Second, eating breakfast does not of itself affect weight loss in obese individuals.

Third, eating breakfast does promote activity in obese individuals, and activity is important for health and weight management. In an increasingly sedentary population, promoting activity is a way to help improve health.

Lead author James Betts, PhD, said in a press release, "Despite many people offering opinions about whether or not you should eat breakfast, to date there has been a lack of rigorous scientific evidence showing how, or whether, breakfast might cause changes in our health. For example, if weight loss is the key there is little to suggest that just having breakfast or skipping it will matter. However, based on other markers of a healthy lifestyle, like being more active or controlling blood sugar levels, then there's evidence that breakfast may help."

Dr. Betts is a Senior Lecturer in Nutrition, Metabolism & Statistics at the University of Bath.

The study was published in the February issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Funding for the study was provided by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Dr. Betts reported receiving consulting fees from food manufacturers PepsiCo and Kellogg.