Does Regular Breakfast Eating Really Help Reduce Body Weight?

A review of previous trials shows that eating or skipping breakfast may not have any impact on a person’s health

Breakfast is well believed to be the “most important meal of the day” and time and again health advice recommends that breakfast should not be skipped for maintaining good health.Breakfast is believed to boost our metabolism and if we skip the morning meal, it can make us hungrier later in the day which can persuade us to overeat, and most of the time unhealthy calories. This can lead to unwanted weight gain. Some health experts argue that this theory could be one of the many myths related to diet which has been conditioned into our brains by previous generations. The exact health benefits of breakfast is a continuous debate for which no accurate answers have been found as yet.

A review of previous studies on benefits of breakfast

In a new systematic reviewpublished in British Medical Journal, researchers from Monash University, Melbourne have analysed breakfast data collected from previous 13 randomized controlled trials carried out in last several decades to make their assessment and come to a well-weighed conclusion. These trials had either looked at weight changes (gain or loss) and/or total daily calorie or energy intake by a participant.The participants in all these previous studies were mostly obese people from UK and USA.It was seen that individuals who consumed breakfast ate more calories throughout the day (average of 260 calories more) and thus their average weight gain was 0.44 kg more than the people who skipped their first meal. This is a surprise find as earlier studies have shown the complete opposite, i.e. skipping breakfast makes people feel hungrier later in the day due to the hunger hormones and this can make people consume more food as they would try to compensate for the loss of energy intake in the morning.

These 13 studies collectively suggest that, firstly,eating breakfast is not anassured way to lose weight and secondly, skipping this first meal of the day may not be linked to weight gain either.Surprisingly, the studies conclude that eating or skipping breakfast makes no difference to ether weight gain or loss. Only one particular study found that skipping breakfast can lead to more calorie burn and this can cause higher levels of inflammation in the body which can affect one’s health.

These previous studies provide suitable quality of evidencesthough they have limitations and several bias as they were conducted over an extremely short period of time. One of them was only a24-hour study and the longest was also only 16 weeks. These durations may not be enough to arrive to generalized conclusions. Around one third of people in developing countries skip breakfast almost on a regular basis. People who tend to skip breakfast are likely to be poor, less healthy and they would have an overall poor diet which could be responsible for their weight gain or loss.

Breakfast is recommended for many health benefits especially in children for better concentration, attentiveness and wellbeing in their growing years. The breakfast debate continues and higher quality studies which last forat least six months to one year could provide a better understanding of thelong-term effects of role of breakfast in weight management. Healthy diet and exercise are important for overall health and nutritional requirements can vary for individuals.


{You may read the original research paper by clicking the DOI link given below in the list of cited source(s)}


Sievert K et al. 2019. Effect of breakfast on weight and energy intake: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. British Medical Journal. 364.

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