Many of the teenagers across the globe think that skipping breakfast can help them to lose weight. But a study has proved that, in fact, the opposite could be correct.
The research that published in the Scientific Reports on Monday stated that missing the first meal of a day is likely to increase the risk of obesity among adolescents. The study tried to find a link between unhealthy eating habits and weight gain.
The research also stated that skipping breakfast can contribute to several unhealthy habits and behaviors. This, in turn, can create “premature emergency of health issues”, like cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes.
“We found that skipping breakfast is associated with adiposity markers in adolescents regardless of where they live and how much sleep they get, or whether they're male or female,” lead researcher Elsie Costa de Oliveira Forkert, who is an epidemiologist, said in a statement.
“By skipping breakfast, millions of children and adolescents around the world are probably replacing a more healthy homemade meal including dairy products, whole-grain cereal and fruit with fast food at a venue on the way to school, or at the school itself,” he continued.
“This typically means consuming industrialized hypercaloric foods of low nutritional value, such as deep-fried snacks, pastries, sodas, and other sugary drinks, which are all directly associated with the development of obesity,” Forkert said.
For the research, the academics analyzed the data of two major studies conducted in Brazil and Europe -- Brazilian Cardiovascular Adolescent Health and Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence.
While the European study consisted of 3,528 adolescents between the age group of 12.5 and 17.5 years of age, the Brazilian study included teenagers between 14 and 18 years of age.
In the European study, 52.3 percent of participants were females. The gender ratio was somewhat similar in the Brazilian study, which consisted of 54.5 percent female participants and the rest (45.5 percent) male participants.
“Energy balance-related behaviors were measured by means of a questionnaire covering physical activity levels at school or at home, during leisure or while commuting, etc. Approximately 60 or more minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity was considered adequate. Less than that was considered insufficient,” Forkert said.
The researcher also studied sedentary behaviors in terms of their screen times of the study participants. During the study, the participants were asked about their eating habits, lifestyle, food choices, and preferences as well as sleep patterns in the weekdays and the weekends.
At the end of the study, the researchers found that adolescents who spent more time watching television, using a computer or playing video games probably consumed unhealthy food and had an unbalanced diet while playing or watching television. Sedentary behaviors associated with relatively high-calorie consumption lead directly to obesity, the study stated.
“Among all the energy balance-related behaviors analyzed, the strongest correlation was between skipping breakfast and the augmented average levels of obesity markers,” Forkert said.
“For boys who skipped breakfast, the average waist circumference was 2.61 cm larger in Europe and 2.13 cm larger in Brazil than those of boys who usually ate breakfast. On the other hand, when we looked at how sleep time influenced the association between the other behaviors and the obesity markers, we found that the average body mass index for European and Brazilian boys who skipped breakfast was 1.29 kg/m² and 1.69 kg/m² higher, respectively than those who ate breakfast, even when they got sufficient sleep [eight hours or more per day],” the researcher explained.
The results were similar for the female participants from Europe. Those who skipped breakfast were more likely to be at higher risk of developing “total and abdominal obesity even when sleep time was adequate”.
“For example, the average waist circumference increased by 1.97 cm, and the waist-height ratio was 0.02 higher,” she said.
“However, among Brazilian boys who slept less than eight hours per day, less sleep was protective for total obesity, which fell by 0.93 kg/m² on average,” the researcher added.
Forkert is a member of the Youth/Child Cardiovascular Risk and Environmental (YCARE) Research Group in Preventive Medicine Department at the University of São Paulo's Medical School (FM-USP) in Brazil.