"You didn't eat breakfast? Don't you know it's the most important meal of the day?"
In the bitterly divided world of breakfast habits, otherwise reasonable people become evangelists. Why is it acceptable to make people feel guilty about not eating breakfast, but it is not acceptable to slap those people?
This week health columnist Gretchen Reynolds at The New York Times did the slapping with science, reporting on two new nutrition studies. She concluded, "If you like breakfast, fine; but if not, don’t sweat it."
That's reasonable, if apathetic. Nutrition science as a field has in recent years been bisected over the importance of breakfast. The research speaks with more nuance than the lay breakfast pusher. But the new studies land a weight of evidence thoroughly outside the realm of "most important meal."
In one study, 300 people ate or skipped breakfast and showed no subsequent difference in their weight gained or lost. Researcher Emily Dhurandhar said the findings suggest that breakfast "may be just another meal" and admitted to a history Breakfast-Police allegiance, conceding "I guess I won’t nag my husband to eat breakfast anymore."
Another small new study from the University of Bath found that people's cholesterol levels, resting metabolic rates, and overall blood-sugar levels were unchanged after six weeks of foregoing breakfast. Breakfast skippers ate less over the course of the day than did breakfast-eaters, though they also burned fewer calories.