The Myth of the All-Powerful Breakfast

00:00 January 01, 1970
By: Noah Stokes-Raab

I’ve heard people tell me time and time again, “You really should eat breakfast every day,” and, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”  It does seem to make logical sense that if one were to wake up and eat a nutritious meal before going to school or work, then they might be able to function better, both mentally and physically.  When I’m hungry, I generally get distracted more often, and I do personally believe that food does give your brainpower a boost, as long as the food is decently nutritious.

However, most studies that attempt to legitimize the power and importance of breakfast do not focus on breakfast’s influence on brainpower and capability, but actually on physical health and weight loss.  There have been many studies on the subject, almost all of which come to the conclusion that kids who eat breakfast in the morning actually lose weight, as opposed to the kids who don’t usually eat breakfast who end up not losing weight, and often even gaining weight.

Many studies come to the conclusion that children who don’t eat breakfast in the morning tend to be overweight, while children who eat two breakfasts are less likely to be overweight.  However, this refers to the breakfasts that are served to the children in their schools, which are generally free.  It’s fair to assume that the kids who are eating two breakfasts at school would tend to come from low-income families more often than the kids who choose not to eat school breakfast, simply because they are likely to be underfed at home, so they eat as much as they can at school, where it’s free.  The fact that these studies often don’t include the kids who only eat one lunch raises a huge red flag that screams bias.

Furthermore, a lot of these studies surrounding the importance of breakfast are funded by companies that would benefit greatly from results showing that breakfast is indeed a magical force that gives the consumer some kind of power.  For example, Kellogg, the company that makes the majority of big-name breakfast cereals, funded one of the most prominent studies that showed a correlation between eating breakfast and being thinner.  Similarly, the Quaker Oats Company also funded a study that showed a correlation between not eating their products and having higher cholesterol.  All in all, a meal is a meal is a meal, and no specific meal has any more importance to one’s health than another.  It wouldn’t be a good idea to skip breakfast every day, but there’s no real reason to believe that breakfast has any special powers that lunch and dinner lack.

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