Adults who skip breakfast run the risk of losing out on the crucial nutrients found abundantly in the foods that make up morning meals.
A study by Ohio State University published online in the journal “Proceedings of the Nutrition Society” found that missing out on the calcium in milk, vitamin C in fruit, and the fiber, vitamins, and minerals found in fortified cereals left adults deficient in those nutrients for the entire day.
The study surveyed more than 30,000 American adults.
“What we’re seeing is that if you don’t eat the foods that commonly consumed at breakfast, you have a tendency not to eat them the rest of the day,” said Christopher Taylor, professor of medical dietetics in the College of Medicine at The Ohio State University and senior author of the study.
“So, those common breakfast nutrients become a nutritional gap.”
Delhi-based nutritionist Kavita Devgan, the author of “Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People,” agrees with the study’s findings.
“I always recommend having a well-balanced breakfast that has macronutrients like protein, healthy carbohydrates, fiber, and some good fats,” Devgan told Zenger News.
“Vegetarians often tend to miss out on their protein intake, so it is essential to incorporate plant-based proteins like legumes. For instance, I don’t think poha (a popular savory Indian breakfast made with flattened rice) is particularly healthy on its own. However, it becomes more nutritious if you throw in some nuts and vegetables to the recipe and add a bowl of yogurt on the side. Sprouted chickpeas and mung beans are also a great way to add protein to your morning meal.”
According to the US Department of Agriculture’s latest dietary guidelines, calcium, potassium, fiber, and vitamin D are considered “dietary components of public health concern” for the general U.S. population — with iron added for pregnant women — because shortages of those nutrients are associated with health problems.
Most research related to breakfast has focused on the effects of the missed morning meal on children in school, including difficulty focusing and behavioral problems.
“With adults, it’s more like, ‘You know how important breakfast is.’ But now we see what the implications are if they miss breakfast,” Taylor said.
He completed the study with Ohio State School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences graduate students, Stephanie Fanelli and Christopher Walls. In addition, a regional dairy association supported the research.
The team used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which collects health information on a nationally representative sample of about 5,000 people every year through interviews, laboratory tests, and physical exams.
The Ohio State researchers analyzed data from 24-hour dietary recalls participants completed as part of the NHANES survey.
The researchers translated the food data into nutrient estimates and MyPlate equivalents using the federal Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies and daily dietary guidelines and then compared those estimates to recommended nutrient intakes established by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academies.
On several key recommendations measured, from fiber and magnesium to copper and zinc, breakfast skippers had taken in fewer vitamins and minerals than people who had eaten breakfast. The most pronounced differences were folate, calcium, iron, and vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, and D.
“We found those who skipped breakfast were significantly more likely not to meet the bottom threshold of what we hope to see people eat,” said Fanelli.
Compared to the Healthy Eating Index-2015, which assesses how well a set of foods aligns with federal recommendations, breakfast skippers also had an overall lower-quality diet than those who ate breakfast.
For example, breakfast skippers were more likely to eat more added sugars, carbohydrates, and total fat over the day — in part because of higher levels of snacking.
“Snacking is contributing a meal’s worth of calorie intakes for people who skipped breakfast,” Taylor said.
“People who ate breakfast ate more total calories than people who didn’t eat breakfast, but the lunch, dinner, and snacks were much larger for people who skipped breakfast and tended to be of a lower diet quality.”
While the data represent a single day in each participant’s life, the vast sample provides a “nationally representative snapshot for the day,” Taylor said.
“It shows that those who skipped breakfast had one nutrient profile, and those who ate breakfast had a different nutrient profile,” he said.
“It helps us identify on any given day that this percentage of people are more likely to be skipping breakfast. And on that day, their dietary intake pattern showed that their consumption didn’t capture those extra nutrients that they have missed at breakfast.”
(With inputs from ANI)
(Edited by Anindita Ghosh and Amrita Das)
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