Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right?
The belief that brekkie is key to kick-starting your metabolism, keeping your weight under control and helping avoid heart disease is based on basically no evidence, according to a leading academic.
Dr James Betts, Senior Lecturer in Nutrition and Metabolism at the University of Bath, told New Scientist: “The problem is that these benefits, although logical sounding, are largely assumptions based on observational studies and had never actually been tested.
“I was amazed when I started looking for evidence – I thought there would be a lot.”
He added: “As soon as doctors find out that an overweight patient skips breakfast they’ll often tell them to make sure they eat it every day.
“But should we not know more about the health effects? We try not to give other health advice without evidence, so why are we more lax with breakfast?”
Dr Betts designed a test to find out if breakfast really did boost health, asking one group to start the day with a meal of 700 calories or more, while another was only allowed to drink water until lunchtime.
Dr Betts found that, while those who skipped breakfast tended to eat a bigger lunch, the extra amount consumed failed to even out the 700 calorie deficit.
He also found that failing to eat breakfast had no affect on fat levels or weight gain.
People who eat breakfast do burn off the extra calories, however, usually through light exercise.