Breakfast: Take it Or Leave It?

Breakfast: Take it Or Leave It? A Doctor Rants... Part II

I was watching this video in which a doctor rants (pretty much) about how people give him grief for not having breakfast. He declares “Don’t judge when it comes to what others eat.” And I (mostly) agree with that sentiment. I mean, it’s incredibly annoying when people have no idea what my health needs are – or what my diet is like – and start policing my meals because I have diabetes.

But I was a little perplexed by the rest of his rant... Far be it from me to judge what people do with their personal habits, but it did seem to come off as more of a personal justification for his not eating breakfast, than any kind of solid argument. So I will be examining his claims in a two part blog post...

Let’s Examine the Claims…  

3. Studies are being sponsored and executed by people with vested interests in the results – the big breakfast industry giants. (And yes, some of them are…)

What are the facts: Needless to say, yes, there are studies out there being sponsored by big industry. However, and again – citing studies done by big grain and cereal industries goes back to not distinguishing between breakfast types. If Dr. Carroll had wanted to study food science and nutrition journals, he could have found studies documenting the importance of a well balanced breakfast (or any well balanced meal, really) and its contribution to system regulation of hunger signals, metabolism slowdown, and excess eating. Not just grain or cereal based breakfasts.

Also, it goes without saying that even if a study is sponsored by an industry, if the study is solid in methodology and execution, and is peer reviewed, it's still a valid study.

4. Kids who can’t focus at school because they’re hungry, are more likely to come from compromised backgrounds and thus, more likely to not have access to regular meals – so they want and need that food. (Which again, is quite true.)

To add context to his claims – Dr. Carroll shares this quote from a study:

"The evidence indicates that breakfast consumption is more beneficial than skipping breakfast, but this effect is more apparent in children whose nutritional status is compromised. There is a lack of research comparing breakfast type, precluding recommendations for the size and composition of optimal breakfast for children's cognitive function. Few studies examined adolescents…" - A Systematic Review of the Effect of Breakfast on the Cognitive Performance of Children and Adolescents, Nutrition Research Review.

What are the facts: Needless to say, this quote does NOT claim that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. However, it does not say that breakfast is unnecessary, nor that it doesn’t bring benefits to all children. It doesn’t even say that it only benefits nutritionally compromised children. It merely states that it obviously benefits those nutritionally compromised children even more. The quote also reinforces what we’ve already discussed – the importance of distinguishing between breakfast types in a study.

Now, I have shared before on how to spot bad science, and bad scientific claims and writing. And with full disclosure in mind, I am merely an advocate for people with diabetes – a person who wants to spread awareness of the daily challenges of living with diabetes. I am not an expert in food science or in nutrition. But with all due respect to Dr. Carroll’s impressive credentials, neither is he. He is a pediatrician, writing on a personal blog in which he states his comments are just his opinion and not the opinion of anyone else. Like I do.

So therefore, I am not the person to say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, or even if having a full MEAL for breakfast is beneficial. But Food scientists and Registered Dietitians are. And you should listen to them, instead. Because I can tell you this: even Dr. Carroll’s own cup of coffee is carrying him through the morning, and is beneficial to HIM. Don’t let yourself have high blood glucose in the morning by not eating something at breakfast time.

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