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Small study found it did not make college students eat more later in the day, contrary to popular belief

By Denise Mann

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, July 26 (HealthDay News) -- Skipping breakfast may not sabotage your waistline after all, a small, new study suggests.

For years, people have been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that missing it would encourage them to eat more later and pack on the pounds as a result.

Now, a study of 24 normal-weight college students suggests that you may actually consume fewer calories if you skip breakfast. The findings are published in the July issue of the journal Physiology and Behavior.

But several nutritionists were quick to caution that there are other important reasons to eat breakfast every day, and that the new findings don't apply to everyone.

As part of the study, researchers either fed breakfast to or withheld breakfast from a group of students. Half of the participants ate breakfast regularly, while the other half did not. They then measured how many calories the participants consumed during the rest of the day. Lunch was served buffet-style, and they were allowed to eat as much as they wanted.

Students who ate breakfast regularly were hungrier on the days they skipped the meal, but they did not overcompensate by eating more at lunch or at any other time during the day. They actually consumed 408 fewer calories on the days they bypassed the morning meal.

"If you are a breakfast eater and we take it away, you will be hungrier, but you won't overeat at subsequent meals," said study author Dr. David Levitsky, a professor of nutritional sciences and psychology at Cornell University. "You can skip breakfast and not feel that you will become overweight."

School-aged children are advised to eat breakfast so they can concentrate in class; the new study did not look at how skipping breakfast affects the ability to learn and think.

Christine Santori, lead nutritionist at the Center for Weight Management at Syosset Hospital in Syosset, N.Y., said it's caloric quality that is important to overall health and weight control, not just caloric intake.

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