The Current

Breakfast: Not what it's cracked up to be?

To breakfast or not to breakfast? Critics are saying the scientific evidence around the benefits of eating breakfast is shaky at best.
Breakfast is very much a part of our current concept of nutrition, but what exactly does it provide in terms of health benefits? (Shutterstock)

What did you have for breakfast this morning? Did you even eat breakfast this morning? 

You likely fall into one of a few camps between the breakfast eaters, the breakfast skippers, and the reluctant breakfast eaters. Regardless of which you are, you've likely been told about the importance of breakfast your whole life.

Aaron E. Carroll, a professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine, says this idea that breakfast is the most important meal of the day is a myth. Carroll is one of those people that just doesn't feel hungry in the morning, so after being "subjected to periodic lectures" for as long as he's been skipping the meal — which he says is decades — he decided to put his myth-busting message out into the world. He created a Youtube video for his channel Healthcare Triage and published a piece in The New York Times.  

With breakfast's importance being questioned, supporters from either side weigh in on where they think your bacon and eggs should stand. For Andrew F. Smith, a culinary history teacher at The New School and author of Fast Food: The Good, The Bad and the Hungry, the concept of breakfast is a relatively new idea. But since Smith is a food historian, new for him means as recent as the 18th century. 

Smith says breakfast went through quite a few transformations to become what we know it as today; from the lavish (and booze-filled) ones of the wealthy class, to the quick ones as North America industrialized, to how John Harvey Kellogg completely changed the game.

But this progression is something Smith notes in relation to today's breakfast debate. He says, "Western tradition's gone all the way from intentionally not having anything to eat once you get up" to lavish breakfasts, to where we are now and variances in between. As for Smith, he does eat breakfast — though he says that's because his mother and grandmother instilled its importance upon him for years.

There is no clear evidence that eating breakfast is going to help you lose weight, stay slim or boost your metabolism.- Leslie Beck, dietician and nutrition columnist

Leslie Beck, a Toronto-based dietitian and a columnist for the Globe and Mail, says while there are studies that have found those who eat breakfast have a lower body mass index (BMI) than those who don't, such findings are not causal.  

However, she does find that "when people eat breakfast, they tend to have a more structured, healthy meal pattern for the rest of the day." 

Do you think we need breakfast or can it be skipped?

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This segment was produced by The Current's Ines Colabrese and Hamutal Dotan. 

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