Breakfast’s potential influence on weight.




American College of Nutrition

Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Obesity, Weight Loss
Professional Data: Obesity, Weight Loss


Medically speaking, not all overweight people are obese. Obesity is defined as weight that exceeds 15 percent of normal weight for height and body type. "Morbid" obesity exceeds 20 percent of optimum weight. The long-term health implications are well known; in fact, obesity is considered an outright disease. Life expectancy may be decreased in overweight and obese individuals. An obese person is at high risk for a number of serious health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, varicose veins, psychological stress, osteoarthritis, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

Obesity is a continually growing problem in most industrial nations. Obesity is also difficult to diagnose due to the lack of any specific, definite definition of the disorder. The body mass index (BMI) is a widely used formula to calculate obesity because body fat is considered within the calculated result.

Overeating and lack of exercise are the principle behavioral factors that lead to obesity. As technology and transportation dominate the 21st century, lifestyles have become increasingly sedentary.1 Societal pressure to produce and succeed leaves less time to plan and prepare wholesome meals. Add the ever-present ads for processed, high fat, high-sugar junk foods, and it is easy to see why obesity is so commonplace.

In the recent edition of the American College of Nutrition, researchers examined the role that breakfast intake plays on BMI. In addition, researchers went further and determined the effects of different types of breakfasts. Diet information was extracted from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and broken down into specific groups. These groups included meat/eggs, fruits/vegetables, fats/sweets, and skippers, among others. After adjustments for sex, age, race, and gender the results showed that subjects who ate different types of cereals had a lower BMI when compared to those who ate meat and eggs or those who skipped breakfast. The authors concluded by stating that skipping breakfast is not effective in managing weight.2


1. Cameron AJ, Welborn TA, Zimmet PZ, et al. Overweight and obesity in Australia: the 1999-2000 Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study (AusDiab). Med J Aust. May2003;178(9):427-32.
2. Cho S. The Effect of Breakfast Type on Total Daily Energy Intake and Body Mass Index: Results from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III). Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 22, No. 4, 296-302 (2003)