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NOT JUST A MEAL …
THE MOST IMPORTANT?
CAN BREAKFAST REALLY HELP MAINTAIN WEIGHT LOSS?
By: Kala Dickerson
October 24, 2008
Obesity in the United States is at an ultimate high. People are eating and relaxing more, and exercising less; this set of habits is what is killing America with un-needed weight and health problems. Over the last 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of persons with obesity. In 2007 Colorado was the only state that had a prevalence rate for this disease of less than 20%. (http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesity/trend/index.htm) Obesity continues to become a serious concern in the lives of Americans and as it has been found to lead to problems such as, hypertension, osteoarthritis, high cholesterol, diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea, and some cancers.
What do these statistics and increase in health problems say about America? We’re FAT! And the answer to all of our problems lies in losing weight. Recently, people have been trying everything under the “sun” to get the weight off. People are trying all kinds of diets as well as quick remedies like specific shoes, pills, treatments, surgeries, and health myths. One of the claims in health knowledge is that eating breakfast will help with weight loss. Is eating breakfast the key to weight loss or is it just another claim that people think works?
THE IDEA BEHIND BREAKFAST
Breakfast truthfully does what the word say’s. It “Breaks” “Fast.” When one sleeps they are fasting from night till morning, on average about 7 to 8 hours or losing about 450 calories. (http://www.annecollins.com/diet_tips/breakfast-weight-loss.htm) While you’re sleeping you are using up all your energy, therefore it is necessary to re-fuel for the next day when you wake up. Eating breakfast as soon as you wake up in the morning is supposed to “jump start” your metabolism and fuel your body for the rest of the day. Other advantages to eating breakfast in the morning are that you will find yourself more alert and able to think clearer. Glucose is the fuel that keeps us running and the nervous system working, if we don’t fuel our bodies with it, and then it will turn to finding stored carbohydrates to turn into sugar. This will make your body work way harder than it has too (http://weightloss.about.com/cs/eatsmart/a/aa102202a.htm). If your body works harder then it will crave more food later in the day.
Some people argue that they cannot eat breakfast, their stomach just cannot handle it or they do not feel like eating it. Daniela Jakubowicz, a clinical professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, said, “the problem is the levels of the brain chemical serotonin are highest in the morning, which means your craving levels are lowest when you first wake up, and you may not feel much like eating. As the day wears on, serotonin levels dip, and you get cravings like chocolate or cookies. If you eat these foods, your serotonin levels rise and you begin to associate good feelings with these foods. This ultimately leads to an addictive cycle.” Another study found that biological changes occur when you have extra weight. Women in this study do not have a drop in leptin levels after exercise like smaller women do. This hormone affects appetite regulation and metabolism. Bodies that are overweight try to maintain their size. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/19/AR2008061901659.html) So it is important to eat breakfast in the morning if you are trying to shed some pounds.
WHERE DID BREAKFAST COME FROM?
The rationale behind this scientific finding is that there is a problem with obesity in the world, particularly in the U.S. This problem has caused many scientists, doctors, and research analysts to study ways in which weight loss is affected. Among many ways to affect weight loss they realized that eating breakfast may have a profound effect on how much weight one loses. It has been found that those who do not eat breakfast are more overweight than others, therefore a correlation was made between the act of eating in the morning and weight loss. Many studies provide a deeper understanding of what actually goes on inside the body to make this weight loss occur. The correlation has repeatedly been proven to be true. (http://www.mealsmatter.org/eatingforhealth/topics/article.aspx?articleId=5)
A study called “Big Breakfast,” by Dr. Daniela Jakubowicz. It was a diet plan given to 94 obese women. Half of the women were put on a restrictive low-carbohydrate diet and the others were put on the Big Breakfast diet. Those who ate breakfast every morning lost on average 40 lbs in eight months, as opposed to the other half who on average lost 9 lbs in eight months. The women who used the big breakfast diet lost 21% body fat and the ones who used the low-carbohydrate diet lost 4.5% body fat. (http://www.healthnews.com/nutrition-diet/weight-loss/breakfast-may-be-key-weight-loss)
A group of researchers analyzed data from a government –funded study that followed more than 2,000 young girls from the age of 9 to 19. The data that they collected shows that regular cereal eaters had fewer weight problems than girls who ate cereal less often. Those who ate cereal “sometimes” had a 13% higher risk of being overweight. (http://webmd.com/diet/features/lose-weight-eat-breakfast).
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,”
“It will boost your metabolism,”
“It cuts your risk for diabetes and other Illnesses.”
“Eating breakfast makes you More Physically Active”
“IF I don’t eat breakfast, I will cut down on my calories.”
Many claims have been made about the art of eating Breakfast. Some are true and some are not! The only way that one can find out the validity of these statements is by diving into the scientist’s work and reviewing the studies. The World Wide Web has tons of accurate information but how we verify it is by looking at the evidence. Let’s take some of the aforementioned claims and research their truthfulness.
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”
Many studies have been done to address this claim. Three studies include, “Breakfast a good start to an A+ day; Get healthy foods ready the night before,” “Breakfast: A Missed Opportunity,” and “Breakfast Habits, Nutritional Status, Body Weight, and Academic Performance in Children and Adolescents.” All three of these articles have taken information from various studies to equip people with the information needed to make informed decisions about breakfast foods.
The first article mentioned, “Breakfast a good start to an A+ day…” is really a statement telling you why breakfast is important. It is written by Sharon Thompson, who discusses the importance of giving your body nutrients in the morning so that it can grow. She compares her reasoning for the importance of breakfast to the great Olympic athletes. She states, “Long before athletes could compete for Olympic gold their bodies had to be motivated.” Health experts tell us that it is nutrients that give athletes the edge they need to compete. In her article she states that statistics show that people who eat breakfast do better in school and are more likely to participate in physical activities. Basically, this article does nothing to scientifically prove that breakfast is most important. It simply tries to convince its readers that breakfast is important because athletes eat it. (Thompson 2008)
The Second article, “Breakfast: A Missed Opportunity,” written by Sandra G. Affenito looks at various studies and makes important conclusions on the importance of eating breakfast. She begins with the nutritional value statistics of breakfast, stating that, “Studies have shown that children who skip breakfast have a reduced intake of micronutrients compared with children who regularly consume breakfast, and these low intake levels are not compensated for at other meals.” (Affenito 565) In the Bogalusa Heart Study, a higher percentage of children who didn’t eat breakfast failed to meet two thirds of the nutrient reference standards for a multitude of vitamins. Later, in the article diet quality is addressed, in that the frequency of breakfast eating is in correlation with improved diet as measured by the Healthy Eating Index. This article shows the trend in breakfast eating and how is has gone down and most significantly between the years of 1965-1991. Along with the trends she discusses the sociological factors such as age, gender, socio-economic status and its effects on who eats breakfast. After discussion on the downward trend of breakfast eating she states that, “There is evidence supporting the association between breakfast consumption and body weight.”(Affenito 566) The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health found that fewer days of breakfast consumption during adolescence predicted increased BMI in young adulthood. This article essentially shows that breakfast potentially is the most important meal of the day because of the increasing pool of evidence leading to obesity when breakfast meals are missed. (Affenito 2007)
The last article is “Breakfast Habits, Nutritional Status, Body Weight, and Academic Performance in Children and Adolescents,” (Rampersaud et al.) This study involved the review of 47 articles related to breakfast eating that were found from the years of 1970 till 2004. They concluded that 10%-30% of the U.S. is skipping breakfast dependent upon their specific social factors. Each of the articles they reviewed had to do with one of their “title” topics. In the body weight section they stated, “Although research strongly supports a relationship between breakfast consumption and nutritional adequacy, the relationship between breakfast consumption and body weight is less well established.” (Rampersaud et al. 748) So in conclusion to their study they found these results. Breakfast contributes to whole-diet nutrient adequacy, bettering of overall diet, higher daily energy, and may be associated with healthful body weights.
These three articles do not prove that breakfast is the most important meal of the day but they do suggest strong evidence between breakfast consumption and weight loss or maintenance.
“It cuts the risks of diabetes and other illnesses”
This claim is addressed in the article, “Breakfast Frequency and Quality in the Etiology of Adult Obesity and Chronic Diseases,” (Timlin et al. 2007) This article first identified that chronic illnesses such as diabetes is associated with obesity, then went on to discuss the research found that suggests breakfast has an effect on obesity. They defined breakfast as, “The first meal of the day, eaten before or at the start of daily activities, within two hours of walking, typically no later than10:00a.m. and a calorie level between 20% and35% of total daily energy needs. The thermic effect of food (TEF), glucose and lipid metabolism, and dietary composition or the factors they studied. As far as the TEF of foods the results remain inconclusive. TEF is basically the energy rating based on how much food you intake. As far as metabolism is concerned, “The reduction of chronic disease risk is postulated to arise from day-long changes in sugar and insulin with frequent meal intake.” (Timlin et al. 270) This means that studies show that frequency of food intake is inversely related to obesity. The last part of their study was dietary composition and how breakfast can reduce the risk of chronic illnesses based on the makings of a person’s overall diet. So the “Better” you eat for breakfast the less risk of illness.
“Eating Breakfast Boosts My Metabolism”
The World Wide Web states that metabolism is boosted when one consumes breakfast in the morning, but there have been no concentrated studies on the direct effects of breakfast on metabolism.
“If I Don’t Eat Breakfast, My calorie intake will go down”
Wrong! “In the article, “For your weight control effort, Breakfast,” it states that in an analysis of 7-day diet diaries kept by almost 900 men and women, John M. de Castro, PhD, a scientific investigator at the University of Texas at El Paso, found that a given number of calories eaten earlier in the day proves more satiating that the same number of calories consumed later on and blunts overall calorie consumption.” (Anonymous 2004) This means that early eating prevents one from craving later in the day, thus reducing caloric intake.
“Eating Breakfast will make you more physically active”
Many Websites make this claim, but yet again there are no studies or research done on the direct effects of breakfast on physical activity.
The claims made about breakfast and weight loss are possibly true according to the studies shown. The Studies all elude to the correlation between breakfast and weight loss, but none of them prove that it is TRUE. Many people today try to encourage early morning eating so that kids and adults alike can be more conscientious of the food that they eat and the effects it has on their bodies. There is not any harmfulness to this type of behavior it actually has many positive effects. Weight loss is not the only possible perk to eating breakfast; they say that brain function and alertness increases with eating breakfast as well.
Most of the presented information from the web is in the form of short articles from newspapers, health sites, or in the news archives on the web. For example some presenters are: the Washington Post, Health News, Healthy Living, About.com, and Weight loss resources.com. The information from the evidence point of view is all from scientific studies and articles that are scholarly. All of these articles web or not, seem to have the same goals of improving the life styles of people. They are trying to get pertinent information out so that people can start to incorporate these findings into everyday life.
Our main goal here is to figure out what breakfast means and how it affects weight loss. The fact is it has not been proven yet. It is a theory. Many studies have been done to test this hypothesis and the results keep repeatedly telling us that breakfast effects weight loss/maintenance positively. The problem with this research is that the confounding variables such as types of food, exercise, gender, and genetics, to name a few, could be the reason that people lose weight and not solely eating breakfast.
The positives in these studies are that other important effects of breakfast have been found such as alertness and higher brain functioning. As far as socio-economic status is concerned the findings about breakfast have caused many schools to provide breakfast to their students to encourage healthy life-styles and higher brain function.
In conclusion, breakfast cannot hurt you. With all the studies and all of the positive effects, trying this method to weight loss will not be a bad thing. If you are someone trying to lose weight or just become healthier in your eating habits start eating breakfast because the worst that could happen would be being full in the morning. The studies show that any food in the morning will help curb afternoon hunger, but if you want to head down the healthy road then take some tips from the different studies suggestions which can be found below!
1. Not used to eating breakfast
a. GET IN THE HABIT
b. Prepare food the night before
c. Don’t like breakfast, eat food you like
d. Anything works just eat it in the morning
2. Quick , Tasty, Nutritious Choices
a. Milk and whole grain cereal
b. Instant oatmeal
c. Granola with fruit and yogurt
d. Peanut butter on toast or bagel
e. Fruit smoothie made with yogurt
f. Cheese and whole grain crackers
g. Don’t overlook leftovers!!
Affenito, S.G., (2007). Breakfast: A missed Opportunity. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 107(4), 565-569.
Anonymous. (2004). For Your Weight Control Effort, Breakfast. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter 22, 6-8
Rampersaud, G.C., Pereira, M.A., Girard, B.L., Adams, J., Metzl, J.D. (2005). Breakfast Habits, Nutritional Status, Body Weight, and Academic Performance in Children and Adolescents. Journal of the American Dietetic Association,105(5), 743-760
Timlin, M.T., Pereira, M.A. (2007) Breakfast Frequency and Quality in the Etiology of Adult Obesity and Chronic Diseases. Nutrition Reveiws, 65(6), 268-281.
Thompson, S. (2008) Breakfast a good start to an A+ day; Get healthy foods ready the night before. The Ottawa Citizen, B.6
Zullig, K., Ubbes, V.A., Pyle, J., Valois, R.F. (2006). Self-Reported Weight Perceptions, Dieting Behavior, and Breakfast Eating among High School Adolescents. Journal of School Health, 76(3), 87-92.
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