As many as 31 million Americans—or 10 percent of the population—regularly skip breakfast.
The Morning MealScape 2011 study showed that men ages 18 to 34 skip breakfast most often, while women over the age of 55 are the least likely to skip, with only 10 percent foregoing their early morning meal.
Now, new research says that eating a big breakfast as part of a low-calorie diet can help obese women lose weight.
Daniela Jakubowicz and her colleagues at Tel Aviv University studied 93 obese women and divided them into two groups. Each of the women ate 1,400 calories a day, but one group had a 200-calorie breakfast and a 700-calorie dinner, while the other had a 700-calorie breakfast and a 200-calorie dinner.
After 12 weeks, the big breakfast group lost an average of 17.8 lbs., while the small breakfast group only lost an average of 7.3 lbs. Besides losing more weight, the women who ate a larger breakfast also had significantly lower blood levels of insulin, glucose, and triglycerides throughout the day, which lowers their risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
The study was published in the journal Obesity.
Skipping Breakfast Doesn’t Make You Eat More Later
Many people believe that if you skip breakfast you’ll only consume more calories at lunch. Research, however, shows that people don't actually eat more later in the day, and that skipping breakfast can help eliminate an average of 408 calories per day.
Earlier this summer, nutritional scientists at Cornell University published a study in the journal Physiology and Behavior that showed skipping breakfast may be a way for some people to eliminate excess calories.
“I realize that skipping breakfast runs counter to common belief—that breakfast is an important meal for weight control, but the data does not support this view. Of course, these results apply to healthy adults—if you’re diabetic or hypoglycemic, for example, you need to eat breakfast to maintain glucose levels," senior author David Levitsky, a Cornell professor of nutritional sciences and of psychology, said in a press release. “But generally, we must learn to eat less, and occasionally skipping breakfast may be a reasonable way to accomplish this.”
A widely-cited study, published a decade ago in the International Journal of Obesity, showed that obese children can lose body fat by skipping breakfast, but that it has the opposite effect on children of normal weight.
“Since numerous studies link skipping breakfast to poorer academics, children should be encouraged to eat breakfast,” the researchers concluded.
Forget Your Waistline, Worry About Your Heart
Because obesity is linked to heart problems, older men shouldn’t consider skipping breakfast as a suitable way to lose weight. A study by the American Heart Association says skipping breakfast increases a man’s risk of coronary heart disease.
They studied 26,902 men ages 45 to 82 and found that men who didn’t start their day with a good meal had a 27 percent greater risk of a heart attack or dying from coronary heart disease.
Although men who don’t regularly have breakfast are more likely to smoke, drink, and be less physically active, the breakfast variable remained strong when other factors were taken into account.
“Skipping breakfast may lead to one or more risk factors—including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, which may in turn lead to a heart attack over time,” lead researcher Leah E. Cahill of the Harvard School of Public Health said in a press release.
So men, wake up 15 minutes earlier and fix yourself something before you leave the house. It may equate to another 15 healthy years of life.