January 17/Munich, Germany/Press Association Mediapoint -- Dieters who enjoy a hearty breakfast are just as likely to have a big lunch and dinner as those who keep it small, new research suggests.
The idea that a large breakfast helps people consume fewer calories for the rest of the day is a myth, according to experts. Writing in the Nutrition Journal, researchers from the University of Munich examined the eating habits of almost 400 obese and normal weight people. Some always had a big breakfast; others ate a small one, and some skipped the meal altogether.
Over the course of the two-week study, the participants were asked to record everything they ate and drank, including weighing foods to accurately note down portion sizes.
The experts then analyzed the calorie intake and found that people who ate higher-calorie breakfasts did not cut down at other meals, as is commonly believed.
Both big breakfast eaters and those who ate nothing or a low-calorie meal consumed the same quantity of calories for lunch and dinner. This means that those who ate a small breakfast, or had nothing, consumed fewer calories overall.
Lead researcher Dr. Volker Schusdziarra said, "The results of the study showed that people ate the same at lunch and dinner, regardless of what they had for breakfast."
A big breakfast (on average 400 calories greater than a small breakfast) resulted in a total increase in calories eaten over the day of about 400 calories.
The only real difference was when people who ate an exceptionally large breakfast decided not to have a mid-morning snack. However, this was not enough to offset the extra calories they had already eaten.
Breakfast foods associated with higher calorie intake were bread, eggs, cake, yoghurt, cheese, sausages, marmalade and butter.
The experts wrote, "Increasing breakfast energy was associated with greater overall intake in normal weight and obese subjects.
"Reduced breakfast energy intake is associated with lower total daily intake.
"The influence of the ratio of breakfast to overall energy intake largely depends on the post-breakfast rather than breakfast intake pattern.
"Therefore, overweight and obese subjects should consider the reduction of breakfast calories as a simple option to improve their daily energy balance."
Previous studies have produced conflicting results on the issue. Sian Porter, spokeswoman for the British Dietetic Association, said, "Apart from providing you with energy, a healthy breakfast gives you many other nutritional benefits.
"Breakfast can provide you with essential nutrients that the body needs such as fiber, vitamins and iron.
"It has been shown that people who eat breakfast have more balanced diets than those who skip this meal, are less likely to be overweight, lose weight more successfully and have reduced risk of certain diseases.
"Missing breakfast may lead you to snack on less healthy foods later on in the morning, and you won't necessarily catch up nutritionally later in the day if you skip breakfast.
"Other benefits of breakfast include improved health, improved mental performance and concentration and better mood -- something we all want in the morning."
From the January 18, 2011, Prepared Foods' Daily News
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