The Most Problematic Meal – Breakfast

Breakfast in Cebu

It often seems like there’s very little solid ground anywhere in the world of obesity. Breakfast, for those lucky enough to have food available, is a subject that never ceases to enthrall people concerned with weight loss. For instance, do the results of research conducted among lean subjects also apply to obese people? All the votes are not in. The Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Team wrote about a British study in which non-obese people were randomly assigned to either eat breakfast or not.

Six weeks later, there was no significant difference in metabolic rate and other related factors, including overeating throughout the day. People who skipped breakfast were, however, more likely to be lethargic and less active in the morning.

Kristin Kirkpatrick of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute calls such studies “interesting conversation starters,” reminiscent of Prof. Patricia McKinney’s  summing-up of a study in her field:

This is a technically sound hypothesis-generating paper and, viewed as such, is interesting. It doesn’t tell us much, other than pointing towards some further investigation.

There seem to be more and more opportunities these days for a healthy admission of ignorance, and researchers and academics should be congratulated for making such honest statements. Kirkpatrick also points to statistics kept by the National Weight Control Registry, showing that 70 percent of successful long-term weight losers do eat breakfast. And of course a great deal depends on what is eaten. She suggests a lean protein, like eggs, and at least one serving of fruits or vegetables.

At least one study has established that a high-protein breakfast cuts down on the production of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and “increases cholecystokinin (CCK) that tells your brain you’re full.”

Some of the meal’s biggest proponents are, of course, cereal companies. Breakfast may or may not be “the most important meal of the day,” but processed grain coated with sugar is almost certainly not the best choice. And it should go without saying that anyone afflicted with a condition such as diabetes will follow closely the best practices associated with its management.

The Big Obesity Study

Several times, Childhood Obesity News has referenced a multi-author study from the University of Alabama (senior author, Dr. David Allison) that sifted through both scientific and secular media to assess the myths and presumptions about obesity. One area of inquiry was the value of breakfast. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition included these words from the authors:

A recommendation to eat or skip breakfast for weight loss was effective at changing self-reported breakfast eating habits, but contrary to widely espoused views this had no discernible effect on weight loss in free-living adults who were attempting to lose weight.

To return to the uncertainty of knowledge, we note that in the course of its massive research, the UAB team identified four different forms of biased reporting:

Biased interpretation of one’s own results
Improperly describing causality in one’s own results
Misleading citations of others’ results
Improperly describing causality in others’ results

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Is Breakfast the Most Important Meal for Weight Loss?,” ClevelandClinic.org, 09/02/14
Source: “Why frequent small meals can stall fast, lasting fat loss,” huffingtonpost.com, 06/25/14
Source: “Myths, Presumptions, and Facts about Obesity,” NEJM.org, 2013
Source: “The effectiveness of breakfast recommendations on weight loss: a randomized controlled trial,” Nutrition.org, 2014
Source: “Skipping Breakfast: Evidence, Beliefs, and Bias,” conscienhealth.org, undated
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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
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Presentations

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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