We’ve long been told breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but when it comes to weight control, is it actually the most important meals?
A study by the Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE) at the Yale School of Public Health and the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at the University of Connecticut published in the journal Pediatric Obesity, followed nearly 600 middle school students from 12 schools over 3 years, observing their breakfast-eating habits. The results showed that the students who skipped breakfast were more than twice as likely to be overweight than those who ate double breakfasts. Ultimately, the findings suggest that two breakfasts are better than none.
But does this study tell the whole story? Researchers did not look at why eating double meals did not impact weight gain, but that skipping meals did, and there could be a lot of factors at play. “This could be because students who ate double breakfast were more active/expended more energy through the day, it could also be that because the students started with more food, they might have eaten less through the day as a result,” says Alix Turoff, RD, of Top Balance Nutrition in New York City.
It's important to understand what else is being eaten through the day before we can see if double breakfast equals weight loss. “This study only looked at breakfast in middle school students so it's not highly generalizable. Overall, we try to encourage people to eat a breakfast that includes a protein and fiber source so that they are not tempted to overeat later in the day. This tends to be more mental than physical-- meaning people who skip breakfast tend to think that they can make up the calories somewhere else and while this is true, skipping meals often leads to overeating. If a person skips breakfast and this doesn't lead to overeating later, than skipping breakfast won't automatically lead to weight gain,” says Turoff.