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Here is the perception: skipping breakfast increases hunger throughout the day, making people overeat and seek out snacks to compensate for missing that first – and some would say most important – meal of the day. This belief is based on many studies and was not challenged until recently, when Brown and colleagues published their findings [1]. Basically, what the authors were pointing out was that sometimes science-related beliefs are presumed true even though insufficient evidence exists to support or refute them. They searched various sources of information in regard to the effect of eating breakfast on obesity, and focused on one meta-analysis and three systematic reviews, which included data from 92 relevant articles. They noted that there were only a few relevant randomized controlled trials, which gave a variety of results and were inconsistent in their conclusions. As for the observational evidence, there was a clear association between breakfast omission and excess weight on the one hand, but this association did not show causation on the other hand. Several methodological flaws were detected in the database as well, such as biased interpretation of one’s own results, improper use of causal language in describing the results, or misleadingly citing others’ results. To summarize, Brown and colleagues suggested that careful analysis of the data dictates caution, since the belief in the association between eating breakfast and better management of obesity exceeds the strength of scientific evidence.

Author(s)

  • Amos Pines
    Department of Medicine T, Ichilov Hospital, Tel-Aviv, Israel

Citations

  1. Brown AW, Bohan Brown MM, Allison DB. Belief beyond the evidence: using the proposed effect of breakfast on obesity to show 2 practices that distort scientific evidence. Am J Clin Nutr 2013 Sep 4. Epub ahead of print
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24004890
  2. Schlundt DG, Hill JO, Sbrocco T, Pope-Cordle J, Sharp T. The role of breakfast in the treatment of obesity: a randomized clinical trial. Am J Clin Nutr 1992;55:645-51.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1550038
  3. Casazza K, Fontaine KR, Astrup A, et al. Myths, presumptions, and facts about obesity. N Engl J Med 2013;368:446-54.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23363498
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