Nutrition science has in recent years been bisected over the importance of breakfast.
Recent studies land a weight of evidence thoroughly outside the realm of “most important meal”.
In one study, 300 people ate or skipped breakfast and showed no subsequent difference in their weight gained or lost.
According to researcher Emily Dhurandhar, the findings suggest that breakfast “may be just another meal”.
Another small new study from the University of Bath found that resting metabolic rates, cholesterol levels, and blood-sugar profiles were the same after six weeks of eating or skipping breakfast. Breakfast-skippers ate less over the course of the day than did breakfast-eaters, though they also burned fewer calories.
The crux of the breakfast divide is a phenomenon known among nutrition scientists as “proposed effect of breakfast on obesity”, or the PEBO. It’s the idea people who don’t eat breakfast actually end up eating more and/or worse things over the course of the day because their nightly fast was not properly broken.
Some studies have supported that idea, but a strong meta-analysis of all existing research last year by obesity researchers found that “the belief in the PEBO exceeds the strength of scientific evidence”, citing poor research and bias in reporting.
Another study published last year researchers at Cornell had people go without breakfast for science, and those who skipped ended up eating less by the end of the day.
In a third study published in July 2013 in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation found that eating breakfast was associated with significantly lower risk of heart disease. That remains the most persuasive pro-breakfast case to date.