Breakfast Hangout Summary

Last night I was one of the speakers in a Google Hangout out on Breakfasts, sponsored by Nestle Cereals UK. These are always a great way to get updated on research and pick up tips. Here is a summary of the bits I found interesting…

Britain has the worst BF habits in Europe with >11 million (34%) or 1 in 5 skipping it daily, compare this to Spain where 93% eat it daily. Main breakfast skippers are 17-24 year olds and men. 

Breakfast and Weight Loss:

There is a common misconception that skipping breakfast will help weight loss. The evidence shows us this is not the case:  

  1. One US study looked at a number of 24 hr recalls from 251 men and 248 women.  Subjects who skipped breakfast 75% of the time were 4.5 times more likely to be obese than subjects who ate breakfast a minimum of 75% of the time (1).
  2.  A British study on 6,764 men found that a higher percentage of total energy intake at breakfast was associated with less weight gain over a mean of 3.7 years (4).

 Breakfast and BMI:

There is evidence showing the link between eating breakfast and having a healthier BMI.

An analysis of 7,687 men and 8,765 women showed those who ate ready-to-eat cereal, cooked cereal, or quick breads (cakes, cookies, pies, pastries, pancakes) had significantly lower BMI’s than subjects who skipped breakfast. This showed skipping breakfast to be an ineffective method of weight management and also suggests that the type of breakfast consumed is an important factor  (2).

Analysis of questionnaires on 2,097 men and 2,121 woman found female subjects who consumed breakfast were significantly more likely to have a BMI < 25 kg/m2 than subjects who did not consume breakfast (3).


The HELENA  study showed ready to eat cereals eaters had a a lower fat intake and  higher protein, carbohydrate, fibre, calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamin B and C intakes.

Eating BF shown in National Diet and Nutrition Survey to be associated with a lower fat and higher carbohydrate intake compared with BF skipping (5)

 Eating cereal generally leads to a higher consumption of milk, providing calcium needed for bone health.

Cereal Grains


There are no specific UK recommendations. The US has a recommendation of 3 portions a day which is not being met by 90% of adults (6). Eating 2-3 portions of wholegrains are associated with 20-30% reduced risk of CV disease (8) and a meta-analysis of 10 RCT’s found WG foods reduced total and LDL cholesterol this is probably due to it’s soluble fibre content (9). Another RCT has shown a reduction in blood pressure with 3 portion of WG’s a day (10).  Research has shown a reduction in waist circumference when wholegrains are swapped into the diet, showing implications in weight management (11).

So what is a portion of wholegrains?   30g of wholegrain breakfast cereal, 30g uncooked oats or 1 slice WG bread.


 Health Benefits of Breakfast:

  1. It boosts cognitive performance. 
  2. Children perform better academically in school, have better behaviour and are more alert.
  3. It provides important nutrients – protein, calcium, fibre, B vitamins
  4. It has a positive effect on body weight and helps with a healthier BMI.
  5. Breakfast contributes less than 20% of daily calories but more than 30% of many key vitamins and minerals.
  6. Breakfast provides and invaluable source of fibre and wholegrains when good choices are made.



  1. Ma Y, Bertone ER, Stanek III EJ, Reed GW, Hebert JR, Cohen NL, et al (2003). Association between eating patterns and obesity in a free-living  US adult population. Am J Epidemiol. [cited 2010 Feb 1];158(1):85-92. Abstract available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12835290
  2. Cho S, Dietrich M, Brown CJP, Clark CA, Block G (2003). 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). J Am Coll Nutr. [cited 2010 Feb 1];22(4) 296-302. Abstract available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12897044
  3. Song WO, Chun OK, Obayashi S, Cho S, Chung CE (2005). Is the consumption of breakfast associated with body mass index in US adults?  J Am Diet Assoc. [cited 2010 Feb 1];105(9):1373-82. Abstract available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16129078
  4. Purslow LR, Sandhu MS, Foroughi N, Young EH, Luben RN, Welch AA, et al (2008). Energy intake at breakfast and weight change: prospective study of 6764 middle-aged men and women. Am J Epidemiol. [cited 2010 Feb 1];167:188-92. Abstract available from:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18079134
  5. Gibson and Gunn 2011
  6. Lang R et al (2003). Consumption of whole-grain foods by British adults:  findings from further analysis of two national dietary surveys. Pub Health Nutr 6: 479-84
  7. Jackson LW (2013). The most important meal of the day: why children skip breakfast and what can be done about it. Pediatr Ann. Sep 1;42(9):184-7. doi: 10.3928/00904481-20130823-10.
  8. Gill A. et al (2011). Wholegrain cereals and bread: a duet of the Mediterranean diet for the prevention of chronic diseases. Pun Health Nutr 14: 2316-22
  9. Kelly SA et al (2007) Wholegrain cereals for coronary heart disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 18: CD005051
  10. Tighe P et al (2010) Effect of increased consumption of wholegrain foods on blood pressure and other cardiovascualy risk markers in healthy middle aged persoins: a randomized controlled trail. Am J Clin Nutr 92 (4): 733-40
  11. Venn BJ et al (2010) The effect of increasing consumption of pulses and wholegrains in obese people: a randomized controlled trail. J Am Coll Nutr 29: 365-72

Disclaimer: The Google Hangout was sponsored by Nestle Cereal Partners. 

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