I don’t eat breakfast. It doesn’t matter. Leave me alone.

Lately, I’ve become a target for people who like to tell me that “I’m doing nutrition” wrong. Evidently, some people don’t agree with my plea, “Don’t judge” when it comes to what others eat.

One of the things that horrifies my friends is that I don’t eat breakfast. I’m just not hungry in the morning. A cup of coffee, and that’s all I need until lunch. I’ve been that way for decades.

This means that I’m subjected to periodic lectures on how breakfast is “the most important meal of the day”. Yeah, that’s a myth. The Washington Post has a nice article today bringing more:

Researchers at a New York City hospital several years ago conducted a test of the widely-accepted notion that skipping breakfast can make you fat.

For some nutritionists, this idea is an article of faith. Indeed, it is enshrined in the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, the federal government’s advice book, which recommends having breakfast every day because “not eating breakfast has been associated with excess body weight.”

As with many nutrition tips, though, including some offered by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, the tidbit about skipping breakfast is based on scientific speculation, not certainty, and indeed, it may be completely unfounded, as the experiment in New York indicated.

At 8:30 in the morning for four weeks, one group of subjects got oatmeal, another got frosted corn flakes and a third got nothing. And the only group to lose weight was… the group that skipped breakfast. Other trials, too, have similarly contradicted the federal advice, showing that skipping breakfast led to lower weight or no change at all.

“In overweight individuals, skipping breakfast daily for 4 weeks leads to a reduction in body weight,” the researchers from Columbia University concluded in a paper published last year.

Read the whole thing. You’ll learn about how the importance of breakfast was based on observational studies, not controlled trials. You’ll learn how this research fails to replicate. You’ll learn how the media overinflated these recommendations to shame those who did not comply. You’ll read about how better research fails to find any significant findings to back up the recommendations. You’ve heard much of this before in many Upshot columns, but it bears repeating.

At least, until we start to do nutrition science right.


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