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Eat Breakfast, but Choose Your Breakfast Calories Wisely, Researchers Say

Nov. 7, 2008 -- Have you heard that breakfast eaters tend to be leaner than other people? That nugget of nutritional wisdom may need a footnote about calories.

A new study shows that breakfast eaters average fewer calories per day than people who skip breakfast, and women who eat breakfast have a lower average BMI than women who don't eat breakfast.

But the study also shows that as breakfast calories increase, so do calories and fat for the entire day -- and average intake of nutrients (including calcium and certain vitamins) falls. Also, there was no difference in BMI among men who did or didn't eat breakfast.

Data came from some 12,300 U.S. adults who participated in government health surveys from 1999 to 2004. The researchers included Ashima Kant, PhD, a professor in the department of family, nutrition, and exercise sciences at Queens College of the City University of New York.

Most participants -- 80% -- reported eating breakfast on the day of the study. But almost 17% reported having a pastry, meal replacement drink or bar, or some other item that didn't fit into one of the five food groups (grain, fruit, vegetable, dairy, and meat or meat alternative).

Kant and colleagues still back breakfast, but they note that people may need information on choosing low-calorie breakfast foods.

The study appears in November's edition of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. All but one of the researchers report ties to Quaker-Tropicana-Gatorade and/or the Breakfast Research Institute, which is sponsored by Quaker and Tropicana; one of the researchers works for Quaker-Tropicana-Gatorade, a division of PepsiCo.

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