Does Skipping Breakfast Make You Fat?

According to a research team at a New York City hospital, several years ago a study was piloted that made it a widely recognized notion that skipping breakfast would make a person fat. It is well documented in the U.S. Dietary Guidelines that having breakfast every day does not in fact cause excess body weight.

As with the other myriad of nutrition tips, including some offered by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, the bit about skipping breakfast is based on scientific “speculation,” not fact. Indeed, this long-held belief may be totally unfounded, as the experiment done by the NYC hospital indicated.

The Study

Each day at 8:30 a.m. for a period of one month study groups were either served breakfast or given nothing to eat. One group in the study got plain oatmeal to eat, another group got corn flakes cereal with frosting, while a third group received nothing to eat. The only group to lose weight was the one that skipped breakfast entirely. Other studies have similarly questioned federal advice, highlighting that skipping breakfast led to lower body weight or no changes at all.

Scientific researcher teams from Columbia University stated in conclusion to the paper published in 2014, “In overweight individuals, skipping breakfast daily for 4 weeks leads to a reduction in body weight.”
When a closer view is given to the way government nutritionists issue breakfast warnings for the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, it is shown how loose scientific speculations, maybe right or maybe wrong, can be elevated into factual nutritional rules that are broadcast all over the country.

This year, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines are being updated. The credibility of its information is being called into question by different scientific disputes. Its advisory committee is calling for removing the long held warning about dietary cholesterol. Additionally, prominent studies have contradicted the governmental warnings about salt and eggs.

The Dietary Guidelines are extremely important because they shape the way school lunches and other federal programs are subsidized. Right now, because the country is plagued by such high levels of obesity, many people are looking for sound and healthy eating advice.

The idea that skipping breakfast may cause weight gain was first published within the guidelines in 2010, during a period in which reviews are conducted to update the findings of experts. In order to prepare, a government panel known as the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee compiled and studied data about skipping breakfast. Some of the information did indeed suggest that people who skip breakfast could gain weight.

One of the most important pieces of evidence that supported the guidelines examined the records of 20,000 male health care providers. Researchers looked at a group for a decade and published its results in 2007 in the journal, Obesity. The results showed after adjusting for age and certain other factors, the males who consumed breakfast were 13 percent less likely to have experienced significant weight gain.


The idea that skipping breakfast was good for weight loss is nothing new. A year before the Dietary Guidelines were published, WebMD published an article entitled “Skip Breakfast, Get Fat.” However, the federal adoption of the idea and its inclusion in the U.S. Dietary Guidelines seems to have furthered the notion.

When the government publishes its updated version of Dietary Guidelines in 2015, it is not clear yet what the advice will be concerning breakfast and weight gain. However, the 2015 advisory committee issued a report that did not make mention of skipping breakfast and weight gain.


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