Breakfast might be more important than expected. New research shows that breakfast skippers tend to eat more sugar throughout the day and have a lower-quality diet overall. What exactly can you expect if you don’t eat breakfast?

15% skip breakfast

This study included 30,889 adults and analysed data from 24-hour dietary recalls participants completed. In this sample, over 15% of participants, almost 5,000 adults, reported skipping breakfast.

“During the recall, participants self-designate their eating occasions as a meal or a snack, and they tell you at what point in time they ate whatever food they report. That’s how we determined whether someone was a breakfast eater or a breakfast skipper,” said Stephanie Fanelli, first author of the study.

Breakfast
Do you skip breakfast? © Profimedia

Less milk, fruit, and fibre

The researchers found that skipping breakfast leads to missing out on the calcium in milk, vitamin C in fruit, and the fibre, vitamins and minerals found in fortified cereals. The differences between breakfast eaters and skippers were most pronounced for folate, calcium, iron, and vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C and D.

“What we’re seeing is that if you don’t eat the foods that are commonly consumed at breakfast, you have a tendency not to eat them the rest of the day. So those common breakfast nutrients become a nutritional gap,” said Christopher Taylor, a senior author of the study.

Breakfast skippers snack more sugar

The study also found that compared to the Healthy Eating Index-2015, which assesses how well a set of foods aligns with recommendations, breakfast skippers also had an overall lower-quality diet than those who ate breakfast. For example, they were more likely to eat more added sugars, carbohydrates and total fat over the course of the day, mainly because of more frequent snacking.

Team Ineos Breakfast
If you skip breakfast, you are more likely to snack more sugar. © Profimedia

“Snacking is basically contributing a meal’s worth of calorie intakes for people who skipped breakfast. People who ate breakfast ate more total calories than people who didn’t eat breakfast but the lunch, dinner and snacks were much larger for people who skipped breakfast and tended to be of lower diet quality,” Taylor said.

They never compensate for the lost nutrients

The researchers also explained that the nutrients that breakfast skippers lose in the morning are usually not compensated throughout the day.

“It shows that those who skipped breakfast had one nutrient profile and those who ate breakfast had a different nutrient profile. It helps us identify on any given day that this percentage of people are more likely to be skipping breakfast. And on that day, their dietary intake pattern showed that their consumption didn’t capture those extra nutrients that they have basically missed at breakfast.”

Do you skip breakfast? Do you think you would eat better and snack less if you ate breakfast?