30 July 2021

Eat Your Breakfast!

Don’t be a breakfast skipper (neon sign from

Welcome back. In the early years of this blog, when posts were mostly about me and often humorous, I once described my breakfast (see A Healthful Breakfast). The topic arose because I was relaying the time a physical therapist, in a rather accusatory tone, said, “I bet you eat the same breakfast every day.”

Given how vulnerable I was, lying on the table, looking up at her young face, I chose not to respond. But yes, I was eating the same breakfast every day. The blog post revealed how that breakfast fare evolved and what it included.

Anyone who might remember the post will be eager to learn I’ve made changes over the past 10 years. My single bowl of cold cereal is now a mix of only 4, not 5, different cereals, though I still favor high whole grain, fiber and protein and low sweetness, calorie and saturated fat. Along with my usual grapes and banana, I now add berries consistently as well as nuts and a sprinkle of flaxseed meal. Of course, I still douse with skim milk and dollops of nonfat plain yogurt.

I’m still using the same bowl for my breakfast.
Enough about me. What about you? Do you eat the same breakfast every day? Do you eat any breakfast? You really should. Researchers affiliated with Ohio State University showed that skipping the breakfast meal commonly results In nutrient gaps that aren’t filled later in the day and a lower quality diet.

Analyzing Breakfast Skippers Intake

The source of their data was the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a nationally representative annual sample of the U.S. population. The NHANES survey includes an interview (demographic, socioeconomic, dietary and health-related questions) and a physical exam. One part of the interview is a 24-hour dietary recall, for which participants designate when they ate whatever food they report and whether it was a meal or snack.

The researchers analyzed the dietary recalls of 30,889 participants, age 19 or older, surveyed between 2005 and 2016. About 15% of participants reported skipping breakfast.

One excuse for skipping breakfast--no time (from www.cookinglight.com/healthy-living/healthy-habits/skipping-breakfast-excuses).
They converted the dietary recall food data into nutrient estimates and MyPlate equivalents using the Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies (FNDDS) and daily dietary guidelines. (MyPlate is the latest nutrition guide from the USDA. FNDDS is a database that provides the nutrient values for foods and beverages reported in What We Eat in America, the dietary intake component of NHANES.) They then compared those estimates to recommended nutrient intakes established by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academies.

MyPlate is the current nutrition guide from USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (www.myplate.gov/eat-healthy/what-is-myplate).
How Breakfast Skippers Fared
Breakfast skippers fell short of those who ate breakfast on several key recommendations, from fiber and magnesium to copper and zinc. The most pronounced differences were for folate, calcium, iron and vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C and D.

Compared to the USDA’s Healthy Eating Index-2015, which assesses how well a set of foods aligns with key recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, breakfast skippers were more likely to eat more added sugars, carbohydrates and total fat over the day. Their lunch, dinner and snacks tended to be larger and of lower diet quality.

Wrap Up
The Ohio State University study was the most recent of three evaluations of skipping breakfast. While all three relied on the dietary recalls of different samples of NHANES survey data, the first focused on carbohydrate intake and diabetes management and the second focused on energy intake.

Each study found that skipping breakfast wasn’t a great idea, which isn’t to say you would do better with an unhealthful breakfast. There are many good choices. In case you’re wondering, I recommend low sweetened, fortified, high-fiber cold cereals with milk, fruit, nuts and yogurt. But I like pancakes, too. 

Breakfast is important (graphic from www.quora.com/What-happens-to-your-body-when-you-dont-eat-breakfast).

Thanks for stopping by. 

Breakfast-skipping study in Proceedings of the Nutrition Society: www.cambridge.org/core/journals/proceedings-of-the-nutrition-society/article/skipping-breakfast-is-associated-with-nutrient-gaps-and-poorer-diet-quality-among-adults-in-the-united-states/C7943690D97E913FA19B936BFBDB0F2A
Article on study on EurekAlert! website: www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-06/osu-tbf061421.php

NHANES: www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/index.htm
MyPlate: www.myplate.gov/eat-healthy/what-is-myplate
Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies: www.ars.usda.gov/northeast-area/beltsville-md-bhnrc/beltsville-human-nutrition-research-center/food-surveys-research-group/docs/fndds/
What We Eat in America: data.nal.usda.gov/dataset/what-we-eat-america-wweia-database
Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academies: www.nationalacademies.org/fnb/food-and-nutrition-board
Healthy Eating Index (HEI): www.fns.usda.gov/healthy-eating-index-hei

Earlier breakfast-skipping studies by Ohio State Univ. researchers:
Energy focus in Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior: www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1499404620303158
Carbohydrate and diabetes focus in Current Developments in Nutrition: academic.oup.com/cdn/article/4/Supplement_2/534/5845709

1 comment:

  1. So true, I am a believer. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And, you'll not be surprised, like you, I eat the same thing almost every day. Oatmeal topped with no-salt added cottage cheese and whole milk Greek yogurt, doused with skim milk; and a very large bowl of fresh fruit: banana, berries and this time of year, peaches.