WHY SKIPPING BREAKFAST LEADS TO WEIGHT GAIN
A number of studies have described the association between skipping breakfast and weight gain and obesity. It has been postulated that the reason for weight gain stems from the fact that we tend to eat more food and higher calories foods later if we skip breakfast in the morning. There is also a belief that calories consumed early in the day are more likely to be burned by the body, whereas the calories consumed late in the evening are more likely to be stored as fat.
A study out of the Institute of Population Health at the University of Ottawa, uncovers some of the reasons why children gain more weight when they skip breakfast. Published in the Public Health Nutrition Journal in January of 2009, the study by Dubois et al, provided some detailed analysis of the 1,549 children who were previously studied in their 2006 paper on breakfast skippers.
The detailed study examines the association between breakfast skipping and the intake of daily calories, nutrients and food in the preschool children. Interviews and eating behavior questionnaires were used to develop the data.
One of the key findings was that skipping breakfast was associated with the consumption of snacks in the afternoon and evening, which were higher in calories and higher in carbohydrates. Skipping breakfast was also associated with weight gain and being overweight, having a higher BMI. A specific correlation was found between overweight/obesity and the dinner time consumption of higher calories and higher carbohydrates among the breakfast skippers.
Interestingly, the total daily calorie consumption was not significantly different between the breakfast skippers and the breakfast eaters, even though the body mass index was higher in the breakfast skippers. These findings support the idea that a more even distribution of calorie intake throughout the day is healthier and less likely to lead to weight gain. Skipping breakfast leads to behavior in which children eat more calories and more carbohydrates late into the afternoon and night, a pattern associated with weight gain and obesity.
It is one more study that demonstrates there is more to metabolism than “calories in = calories out” while the overriding principal of calories in = calories out is roughly true, it can differ significantly when the calories are consumed at different times of day. Consuming the same amount of calories late into the evening and night is associated with weight gain and obesity, and this is one more study illustrating that principal. And it helps explain why breakfast skipping is a behavior to be avoided and discourage in children (and adults too!).