Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Big Breakfast Lobby

Nutrition researchers can be maddeningly stupid.  I just read about a study which showed that people who choose to eat healthy foods for breakfast are more likely to choose healthy foods for other meals.  Conversely, people who ate crap for breakfast were more likely to choose to eat crap for their other meals.  Now, no reasonable person would think that there was any causation here, merely that people are consistent with their food choices.  Somebody who eats a healthy breakfast isn't as likely to go to McDonald's for lunch as the guy who scarfs down three long johns with his morning coffee.

But what do the researchers in this article suggest?  What else: That if we get people to eat cereal for breakfast, magical fairies will appear and make them eat salad for lunch.  But that's just fucking stupid.  This study doesn't suggest there is anything magical about healthy breakfasts.  The message should be that ALL meals should be healthy.  And of course, that is a message they often say.  But emphasizing the healthy breakfast as a way of getting folks to eat healthy lunches and dinners is just plain stupid.

And hey, perhaps you think I'm summarizing this wrong.  So I'll just quote from the article:
Overall, people who reported eating a low-energy-density breakfast in the past day were more likely than their counterparts to choose lower-calorie foods for the rest of the day as well. As a group, they also had a higher-quality diet -- eating a wider variety of foods and more vitamins and minerals.

Among men, those who ate a breakfast low in energy density tended to weigh less, even with factors like exercise and income considered. For women, any type of breakfast was related to a lower likelihood of obesity -- though the calorie density of other meals did seem to be important.

More research is needed to confirm those particular findings, Rippe's team notes. For now, they suggest that men should be encouraged to eat a breakfast low in energy density, whereas women should eat breakfast but also focus on choosing low-energy-density foods throughout the day.
And again, this study didn't find anything magical about breakfast.  So why the lie?  Call it a hunch, but I suspect it might have something to do with the group that sponsored the research: The all-powerful Breakfast Research Institute.  That's right, Big Breakfast is at it again, trying to persuade people that their meal somehow causes you to eat healthy for the rest of the day.  But it's not going to work.  For as much as people like looking good, people LOVE donuts.  And no amount of pro-breakfast propaganda will change that.

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