Breakfast is the most important meal of the day… if you’re losing weight.

Those who skip it in their hurry to get to work in the morning may end up piling on the pounds.

A study has found people who never or seldom eat breakfast are more likely to be obese and put on weight.

Those who skipped breakfast also had larger waists, researchers who took measurements from almost 350 adults found.

The experts have long disagreed over the importance of the first meal of the day, with a University of Bath study finding in 2016 that skipping breakfast did not make people hungrier.

People who never or seldom eat breakfast are more likely to be obese and put on weight, researchers who took measurements from almost 350 adults have found

But the latest research, from Mayo Clinic in the US, found more than a quarter of people who skipped breakfast were obese, compared to just over one in 10 people who ate it frequently.

Over the past year, those who never ate breakfast reported the greatest weight gain.

The authors, led by Kevin Smith at Mayo Clinic, state in the conclusion to their study: ‘Infrequent breakfast consumption is associated with indices of central obesity and weight gain, with these associations being more evident in individuals who never eat breakfast.

‘Our findings on healthy adults are consistent with prior observations in the young, corroborating the concept that regular consumption of this meal is an important and independent contributor of healthy weight at all ages.’ The study took information on the breakfast habits of 347 people aged 18 to 87, who were weighed and measured for their hip and waist circumference.

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Participants reported whether they never ate breakfast, had an ‘infrequent’ breakfast one to four times a week, or a ‘frequent’ one five to seven times a week. To be included in the study, they needed to have followed this breakfast routine for two or more years.

The results, presented at the Experimental Biology annual conference in San Diego, show 26.7 per cent of people who never ate breakfast were obese, compared to 10.9 per cent of people who ate it frequently. It has been suggested people who skip breakfast make up for the calories they miss in later meals and snacks.

The study found that more than a quarter of people who skipped breakfast were obese, compared to just over one in 10 people who ate it frequently

Those who skipped breakfast had waists an average of 9.8cm (3.8 inches) larger than those who ate it five to seven times a week, even taking into account age, gender and body mass. They also self-reported having gained the most weight over the previous year.

Naveed Sattar, professor of metabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow, who was not involved in the research, said: ‘Eating breakfast may lead people to snack less in later parts of the day, but to prove this we need proper trials to test that theory.

‘It could also be that people who skip breakfast have different, potentially less organised or more chaotic lifestyles which also lead them to eat excessively or less healthily in other meals throughout the day.

‘So eating breakfast in itself may not lead to lower weight, instead acting as a marker of lifestyle.

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‘Until we know for sure, I would encourage people to start their day with a healthy, fibre-rich breakfast.’ 

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