Longitudinal Study Finds Those Who Eat Breakfast To Be Thinner
> 3/25/2008 11:57:15 AM

It may seem a trite truism to many that breakfast is an important part of a healthy day, but a 5-year study conducted by the University of Minnesota adds new credence to the idea. Published this month in the journal Pediatrics, the study draws its conclusions from Project EAT data, which examined eating behaviors of teens between 1999 and 2004. By examining responses on breakfast eating at the study's outset and comparing them to information about body-mass index and other health indicators at the second survey time, the Minnesota team was able to draw a number of conclusions.

The cohort here was around 2,200 teens, split 1,000 and 1,200 between boys and girls respectively. The primary results indicated that those who reported more regular breakfasts during the first time period were slimmer during the second survey period. The researchers also noted that there was a dose-response relationship between breakfast eating and BMI, meaning that individuals who reported eating breakfast the least were the biggest, while those in between were also in between the high and low of BMI measurements later. Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Project EAT's Lead Investigator, addressed some of this study's implications in a university press release:

"Although adolescents may think that skipping breakfast seems like a good way to save on calories, findings suggest the opposite," she says. "Eating a healthy breakfast may help adolescents avoid overeating later in the day and disrupt unhealthy eating patterns, such as not eating early in the day and eating a lot late in the evening."

Dr. Neumark-Sztainer mentions a pair of possible forces at work in this study: avoiding overeating and establishing healthy eating patterns. Unfortunately, this study didn't address causality-- that is, whether eating breakfast actually precipitated healthier metabolisms or lower BMIs. There are several other options that could explain the link. Primary among these would be that healthier individuals make the choice to eat breakfast, while those with poor health habits, which would predispose them to be overweight anyway, shun eating in the morning.

Despite the lack of a causal link, this study provides actual longitudinal evidence in support of breakfast. No matter the why, the what is certain: breakfast eaters tend to have lower BMIs, and lead healthier lives. Encouraging adolescents and teens to eat breakfast is an integral part of raising healthy children.

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