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Breakfast, the Most Important Meal of the Day?

You’ve probably heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But how solid is that advice actually? Where is the research that founded it and how reliable is it’s claim? Most people aren’t even hungry until lunch time, but they are made to feel bad about themselves if they skip breakfast. It’s time we took a good hard look at the facts and realize that the age old advice we all grew up on is actually based on misinterpreted research and biased studies.

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Publication Bias

It won’t take you long to find a study that links skipping breakfast with poor health. A 2013 study published in the journal Circulation, found that men who skipped breakfast had a significantly higher risk of coronary heart disease than men who ate breakfast. More than other topics, this specific subject is one that suffers from publication bias. In a paper published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2013, researchers reviewed the literature on the effect of breakfast on obesity to look specifically at this issue. They first noted that nutrition researchers love to publish results showing a correlation between skipping breakfast and obesity. They love to do so again and again. If they are so certain about their results, than why continue publishing papers on the same subject?

Improper Use of Causal Language

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After closely observing the research that claims skipping breakfast is bad for you, it is evident that there is widespread improper use of causal language to describe their results. They misleadingly cited others’ results. And they also improperly used causal language in citing others’ results. Clearly people believe, and want you to believe, that skipping breakfast is bad.

Confusing Results

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What’s even more perplexing is that a 2014 study found that getting breakfast skippers to eat breakfast, and getting breakfast eaters to skip breakfast, made no difference with respect to weight loss. But a 1992 trial that did the same thing found that both groups lost weight. A balanced perspective would acknowledge that we have no idea what’s going on.

Overall, the evidence for the importance of breakfast is pretty messy. If you’re hungry, eat it. But don’t feel bad if you’d rather skip it, and don’t listen to those who lecture you. Breakfast has no mystical powers.