Breakfast is the “most important meal of the day”

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Making any type of widespread statement about breakfast and any potential benefits it may bring is hindered by a lack of a standard definition of breakfast. This has been cited repeatedly as a limitation to individual studies examining the effect that breakfast has on nutrient intake and health, but it is also a major problem when interpreting systematic review articles and meta-analyses. For consumers, nutrition educators, or policy makers, it is difficult to define the best foods to consume as well as when to consume them. This is further hampered by the fact that current breakfast patterns are not homogeneous, and the nutrient profiles and effect on health outcomes, such as weight status, vary considerably. Should “breakfast,” a term that most individuals understand implicitly as it relates to their culture, be defined using groups of foods or by a specific energy, macronutrient (specifically protein), or micronutrient prescription? Breakfast has been heralded as the “most important meal of the day” not only because it has been championed as a meal that contributes significantly to nutrient intake, nutrient adequacy and diet quality, may be a strategy used to lose weight or maintain weight loss, and can potentially improve cognition in children. It has been demonstrated that the type of breakfast consumed may affect daily nutrient intake, diet quality, and weight; therefore, a simple definition of “breakfast” does not significantly add to the literature. Less well defined is the role breakfast plays in the cognition of children. Although accepted as fact, results evaluating acute and chronic consumption of breakfast and cognition are equivocal. More rigorous studies and round table discussions are needed before we can provide evidence-based dietary recommendations for breakfast intake.

“Summary on importance of breakfast for children’s health and development” –
Nicklas, Theresa – Children’S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)

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