Breakfast habits may not affect weight loss

It's long been said that eating breakfast is critical for weight loss.

Yet a new study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) shows that changing your breakfast habits may not affect weight loss in the long run after all.

Current guidelines recommend a nutrient-dense breakfast, since not eating the first meal of the day has been linked to excess body weight. Yet David Allison, Ph.D., associate dean for science in the UAB School of Public Health, said that studies designed to find a link between two things like eating breakfast and weight management often don't prove causation.

Breakfast and Obesity

The current study examined 92 other studies about the proposed effects of breakfast on obesity (PEBO). The authors found that most PEBO-related research seemed to be influenced by factors that led to "exaggerated beliefs and statements about the purported effects of breakfast consumption on obesity," a press release on the research stated.

The idea of probative value - the extent to which a study can increase knowledge on a particular subject from the status quo - seemed to be paramount in the review.

"Another way to look at it is to ask, 'Do we really feel any more confident about the relationship between skipping breakfast and obesity after the 78th compared to the 77th cross-sectional association study?''' said Andrew Brown, study author.

No Causal Effect

Overall, the study found that skipping breakfast is associated with obesity, but there is no confirmation that it's a causal effect.

"Although we know that breakfast-skippers are more likely to be overweight or obese, we do not know if making breakfast-skippers eat breakfast would decrease their weight," Brown said. "Nor do we know if making breakfast-eaters stop eating breakfast would cause them to gain weight."

The authors note that uncertainly about the subject shouldn't be confused with evidence of no benefit or harm.

"It just means that right now we don't know how changing breakfast-eating habits will influence obesity - eating versus skipping breakfast could help control weight, cause more weight gain or have no effect - and the effect may vary from person to person," they concluded.

Source: Science Daily

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