Breakfast Is Not As Important As You May Think

Skipping breakfast may not be so bad after all.

Many of us have heard of the importance of breakfast, and its effect upon everything from our energy levels and weight loss to our ability to concentrate and perform well at school or work. However, Dr. Aaron E. Carroll, professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine, has argued that breakfast may not be as important as various articles and studies would lead us to believe.

"As with many other nutritional pieces of advice, our belief in the power of breakfast is based on misinterpreted research and biased studies," he said.

Carroll stated that many research studies have discovered an alleged link between not eating breakfast and various health problems. However, between the informal language used to describe the outcomes of such studies, misleading ways in which other studies were cited, and the tendency for many studies to demonstrate correlation instead of causation, such studies should be viewed through a critical, skeptical eye.

Apart from methodological issues, many studies demonstrating the importance of breakfast are biased, Carroll explained. Kellogg’s sponsored an article that’s frequently used to demonstrate the association between eating cereal and being thin. The Quaker Oats Center of Excellence funded a study to demonstrate that eating frosted cornflakes or oatmeal can lead to a decrease in weight and cholesterol.

Other studies have focused on the effect of breakfast on children regarding their weight, behavior, and academic performance. However, such research is typically focused on free breakfast for children who are undernourished.

"It’s not hard to imagine that children who are hungry will do better if they are nourished," Carroll said. "This isn’t the same, though, as testing whether children who are already well nourished and don’t want breakfast should be forced to eat it."

Therefore, Carroll believes you shouldn’t be too concerned if you’re not hungry first thing in the morning.

"If you’re hungry, eat it," he concluded. "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."