Eating Breakfast Isn’t as Important as You Think
You’ve heard it all before: Breakfast is “the most important meal of the day” and skipping it can lead to weight gain, a sluggish metabolism, or stress. According to a new piece in The New York Times however, our beliefs about breakfast are all based on “misinterpreted research and biased studies”–propaganda, basically.
Author Aaron E. Carroll notes that almost all breakfast studies suffer from a “publication bias.” There are flaws in reporting of studies that skew findings to link skipping breakfast with causing obesity. Carroll writes:
The [reports] improperly used causal language to describe their results. They misleadingly cited others’ results. And they also improperly used causal language in citing others’ results. People believe, and want you to believe, that skipping breakfast is bad.
Additionally, there are usually conflicts of interest behind the studies, considering most of them are funded by the food industry. The Quaker Oats Center of Excellence, for instance,paid for a trial that concluded eating oatmeal or frosted cornflakes reduces weight and cholesterol. Go figure.
We’re conditioned from a young age to believe that breakfast is essential to performance. It turns out that’s because most of the research geared toward kids is meant to evaluate the impact of school breakfast programs. They don’t take into consideration that 15 million children in the U.S. go hungry at home–of course they would do better in school if they eat. “That 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,” Carroll writes.
Overall, you should just go with your gut. If you’re hungry in the morning, eat. If you’re not, don’t think you’re sinning by skipping it. Finally, approach all studies skeptically–Carroll put it best: “Breakfast has no mystical powers.”