It is by now a well-worn piece of nutritional advice: Skip breakfast and you'll end up gaining weight in the long run. In fact, you'll even find that nugget in the official U.S. Dietary Guidelines. The only problem is that science doesn't support the assertion, writes Peter Whoriskey at Wonkblog in the Washington Post.
In fact, several studies conducted in the last few years have reached precisely the opposite conclusion: “In overweight individuals, skipping breakfast daily for 4 weeks leads to a reduction in body weight,” says one last year from Columbia University.
So how did the feds end up with their recommendation? Whoriskey explains that they relied on results from "observational" studies, the less rigorous cousins of those with control groups and the like. In 2010, the U.S. guidelines warned people that “not eating breakfast has been associated with excess body weight," and health reporters around the country began writing stories to that effect.
"The trouble with all these pronouncements is, aside from raising doubts about the credibility of other dietary advice from the government, that they might actually cause people to eat breakfast when they otherwise wouldn’t, potentially leading to weight gain," writes Whoriskey.
New guidelines will be rolled out later this year, and it's not clear whether the apparently bogus breakfast advice will remain. (Click for the full post.)