New study shows changing breakfast habits may not affect weight

breakfast sThose trying to lose weight are often told to not skip breakfast. A new UAB study shows that while an association exists between breakfast and weight management, the question of whether eating vs. skipping breakfast affects weight has not been answered by research.

Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating a nutrient-dense breakfast to promote calorie balance and weight management, since not eating breakfast has been associated with excess body weight. A team led by David Allison, Ph.D., associate dean for science in the School of Public Health, said that studies designed to find links between two things, like breakfast habits and obesity, often do not prove that one causes the other.

Andrew Brown, Ph.D., first author of the new study recently published online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, spearheaded the examination of 92 studies about the proposed effect of breakfast on obesity (PEBO). The PEBO-related research literature, the authors found, seemed to be influenced by factors that led to exaggerated beliefs and statements about the purported effects of breakfast consumption on obesity. These include research that lacks probative value and biased research reporting.

Probative value is the extent to which a study can move knowledge forward from the current status quo. The authors explain that probative value of a given study on a topic tends to decrease as similar types of studies are repeated excessively.

“Another way to look at it is to ask, ‘Do we really feel any more confident about the relationship between skipping breakfast and obesity after the 78th compared to the 77th cross-sectional association study,’’’ Brown said.

Read more about the study and its results.

Research & Scholarship