Skipping Breakfast May Not Always be the Best Approach to Saving Time and Cutting CaloriesAug 31, 2021 04:03PM ● By Jaycee Miller
Several websites tout September as Better Breakfast Month with its origins possibly traced back to both World Wars when it was known as All-American Breakfast Month. That’s when the U.S. government touted the benefits of a better breakfast and recommended Americans consume one. In the 1950s, likely due to its abutment with summer vacations ending, a monthly commemoration began each September.
Not everyone has heeded the recommendation. Researchers that took a deep dive into a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reported 87 percent and 88 percent, respectively, of U.S. men women reported eating breakfast in the early 1970s, and that the numbers for both genders had dropped to 81 percent by 2010. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that although 82.4 percent of all children and adolescents of ages 2 to 19 years consumed breakfast in 2015 to 2018, younger kids were more likely to eat breakfast than older kids.
There are myriad reasons people skip breakfast, some of which are valid, some of which are not, according to Duke Appiah, Ph.D., an assistant professor of public health at Texas Tech University. He co-authored a recent study that indicates adults that skipped breakfast had a higher risk for cancer mortality and engaged in activities such as “smoking, obesity and physical inactivity.”
Recent studies also show kids that skip breakfast may be more likely to have low self-esteem than those that ate that meal. In addition, kids that miss the meal are also more likely to have calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc insufficiencies, Lauren Dinour, DPH, an associate professor of nutrition and food studies at Montclair State University, in New Jersey, explains.
“These are important nutrients for children’s growth and development,” Dinour says. A better, healthier breakfast does not have to take hours to prepare or a long time to eat, according to Peggy Policastro, Ph.D., director of nutrition services at Rutgers Dining.
“We have a preconceived idea that sometimes breakfast has to be a sit-down meal and has to be elaborate,” she says. However, for kids and adults, “it can be as simple as packing something to take with you, like nuts, dry cereal and piece of fruit. You may not have time in the morning, but you can put something together the night before.”
Those that skip breakfast to save calories will likely consume those calories some other time during the day, Policastro continues.
“You are likely going to be really hungry later,” she says. “When we are hungry, we tend to make food choices that are not as nutritious as when we are not.”
Not everyone that skips breakfast may be doomed to an unhealthy life, Appiah says.
“Some researchers report that short-term fasting up to 72 hours enhances the efficacy and tolerability of chemotherapy. Several lines of evidence suggest eliminating nighttime eating and prolonged nightly fasting intervals leads to improvement in belly fat and blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels,” he adds.
Jaycee Miller is a freelance writer and researcher living in New Jersey.