BREAKFAST HAS traditionally been described as the most important meal of the day.
A review of studies found that eating breakfast does not appear to help people lose weight and should not necessarily be recommended as a weight-loss strategy. It also challenges studies that suggest skipping breakfast can disrupt the body's internal clock and lead to weight gain.
Eating a hearty breakfast doesn't help people eat less later in the day, and those who have breakfast end up eating more calories each day, the review found.
'On top of this, studies have shown time after time that people who skip breakfast are more likely to make less healthy choices later in the day - be it due to the feeling that they are "allowed" that treat because they've skipped a meal or because they're simply hungrier and in need of more energy.
"People [in these studies] who skipped breakfast were more likely on average to be poorer, less educated, less healthy, and to have a generally poorer diet".
She added: 'Although eating breakfast regularly could have other important effects, caution is needed when recommending breakfast for weight loss in adults, as it may have the opposite effect'.
Eating breakfast has always been upheld as a weight loss strategy - but the latest research suggests you may be better off without it.
Indeed, the researchers cautioned that numerous studies included in the review had notable limitations.
"Currently, the available evidence does not support modifying diets in adults to include the consumption of breakfast as a good strategy to lose weight", write authors of the study.
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The results, published in the British Medical Journal, revealed just a very small difference in weight loss between those who ate breakfast and those who did not.
Previous studies have suggested that eating breakfast is linked with maintaining a healthy weight. Some research indicates optimum health outcomes if you open the eating window early in the day and close it early in the day - so time-restricted eaters may not be better off skipping breakfast.
Monash University in Melbourne reviewed 13 studies from the last 28 years in high income countries around the world, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan, examining weight and energy intake from breakfast consumption.
"We are not talking about breakfast being the cause of obesity", he said.
This pattern held up regardless of where the studies took place or how much the volunteers weighed.
According to Cicuttini, "The key message is that if a person likes to eat breakfast, that is fine".
If you're trying to lose weight you've probably been told not to skip breakfast, as it could make you hungrier later in the day.
Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King's College London, said the mantra of breakfast being the most important meal of the day had been ingrained in most people from childhood and reinforced by campaigns such as "go to work on an egg". NHS advice warns: "Some people skip breakfast because they think it will help them lose weight". Some people like breakfast and some don't.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Try mashing avocado on toast for a light healthy breakfast What is a healthy breakfast?