Overweight individuals often skip meals in an effort to shed the pounds. This may be counterproductive as eating breakfast, for instance, can lead them to be more active, a new study says.

University of Bath researchers in the United Kingdom found that while eating breakfast did not directly lead to weight loss in obese people, it resulted in greater physical activity in the morning as well as reduced food consumption later in the day (both study groups ate similar overall amounts).

Lead researcher James Betts says that until now, there has been no conclusive evidence that shows how breakfast affects health. “‘How important' breakfast is still really depends on the individual and their own personal goals,” says Betts.

But breakfast has been shown to help in certain areas of wellness such as becoming more active or controlling one’s blood sugar levels, he explains.

The researchers divided study participants ages 21 to 60 into two groups – the fasting group and the breakfast group – and monitored them for six weeks.

Those in the fasting group were asked to consume only water until noon, while those in the “breakfasting” group were asked to eat at least 700 calories by 11 a.m. Participants had the freedom to choose what they wanted for their morning meal.

This research was built on previous research looking at the effects of eating breakfast on lean subjects. Both studies are part of the three-year Bath Breakfast Project of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, billed as among the most comprehensive that delves on the impacts of breakfast.

Conducting further research, the team wants to compare different types of breakfast – and what nutrients and food sources might favor one’s health the most.

Lead study author Enhad Chowdhury also reminds that not all breakfast meals are created equal. “The effects of a sugary cereal compared to a high protein breakfast are likely to be quite different,” he says.

The findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

A separate study published in the journal Eating Behaviors discovered that giving protein-rich breakfast to children reduced their risk of overeating during lunch.

Echoing the point that breakfasts are not equal, the University of Pennsylvania researchers found that the egg breakfast was more satiating than the cereal or oatmeal breakfast even if the kids ate less for lunch.

Photo: Matt Krause | Flickr

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