What's the Latest Development?

A review of dieting studies shows conclusively that eating breakfast does not contribute to weight gain, and that those who skip breakfast typically consumer fewer daily calories than breakfast-eaters. In fact, only one 12-week study, published in 1992, attempted to control for breakfast-eaters and breakfast-skippers when it came to weight gain: Moderately obese adults who were habitual breakfast skippers lost an average of roughly 17 pounds when they were put on a program that included eating breakfast every day. And regular breakfast eaters who were instructed to avoid eating breakfast daily lost an average of nearly 20 pounds."

What's the Big Idea?

The continuing kerfuffle over breakfast and weight gain confirms the most basic fact about weight management: More than anything else, eating an excessive number of calories is what makes people fat. A 2002 study found that eating breakfast may help people maintain their current weight, after losing some through calorie limitations and exercise. "Newer studies that have focused on depriving people of breakfast show that it 'can lead them to eat more calories at lunch. But those extra calories do not make up for the calories they missed at breakfast, so at the end of the day, they still end up eating fewer calories over all.'"

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