Think Breakfast Is Important? Then Prove It

Columnist finds scant evidence to back up the claim
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2016 12:13 PM CDT
Updated May 23, 2016 12:24 PM CDT
Think Breakfast Is Important? Then Prove It
   (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

The next time someone tells you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, ask them to back it up with evidence. At the New York Times, pediatrics professor Aaron Carroll doesn't think they'll be able to do it. Yes, countless studies exist that purport to show that skipping breakfast leads to obesity and poor health, but look more closely and you'll likely see that those studies find "association, not causation." The studies are misinterpreted and often biased, sometimes by the big companies funding them that also happen to be in the business of selling breakfast food.

As for the argument that kids do better in school with a good breakfast, well, sure, but that has more to do with poverty and basic nutrition than anything inherently special about breakfast. "It’s not hard to imagine that children who are hungry will do better if they are nourished," writes Carroll. "This isn’t the same, though, as testing whether children who are already well nourished and don’t want breakfast should be forced to eat it." At best, the only safe conclusion to draw about breakfast is that the research surrounding it is a "mess," writes Carroll. He offers this advice: "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." Click for the full column. (More breakfast stories.)

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