Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day?

 French toast with bacon stack

We've all been taught that eating breakfast is vitally important to our health, to aid in weight loss, and to be able to stay focused in the morning. It's often touted as being "the most important meal of the day." But Aaron Carroll of The New York Times says the old adage is essentially a lie perpetrated by the food industry.

Carroll claims that the notion of breakfast's importance is fueled by "misinterpreted research and biased studies." He writes that in the case of breakfast being vital to maintaining a healthy weight, researchers "were consistently biased in interpreting their results in favor of a relationship between skipping breakfast and obesity. They improperly used causal language to describe their results. They misleadingly cited others' results. And they also improperly used causal language in citing others' results."

He notes additional misinterpretations when it came to studies about students doing better if they ate breakfast at the school. Carroll points out that these studies don't note whether the students had adequate opportunity to eat at home. If they were coming to school hungry from the night before, he posits, it's a no-brainer that they would perform better if they had breakfast at school, because one can't expect students to do well if they are aren't getting nutrition at home.

The bottom line, says Carroll, is that there is no clear scientific consensus about the value of eating breakfast. His advice? "If you're hungry, eat it. But don't feel bad if you'd rather skip it, and don't listen to those who lecture you. Breakfast has no mystical powers."

Photo of French toast with bacon & egg stack from National Post by Bonnie Stern

2 Comments

  • AliciaWarren  on  6/8/2016 at 4:06 AM

    Absolutely agree that breakfast is unnecessary. There is evidence that the longer the overnight gap between last food in the evening and first food the next day, the lower a person's average insulin levels will be. High average insulin levels lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes. Lowering average insulin levels is the key to weight loss and reversing type 2 diabetes. I learned this from The Obesity Code - Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss by Dr Jason Fung, and it has worked for me.

  • anightowl  on  6/9/2016 at 12:25 AM

    I simply can't abide the thought of food for the first hour after I get up. By the time I feel like I could eat, it's edging towards lunch, so I generally skip breakfast altogether unless it's a special family meal (in which case it's usually brunch). I'm so glad new research is saying that listening to my body isn't a terrible and unhealthful thing to do. I'm so tired of having others tell me it's a horrible idea to skip breakfast, when it's really the last thing I want to do in the morning. That photo of the French toast, egg and bacon stack looks fantastic...I may make that for dinner tomorrow. :)

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