The effect of breakfast type on total daily energy intake and body mass index: results from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III)

J Am Coll Nutr. 2003 Aug;22(4):296-302. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2003.10719307.


Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between breakfast type, energy intake and body mass index (BMI). We hypothesized not only that breakfast consumption itself is associated with BMI, but that the type of food eaten at breakfast also affects BMI.

Methods: Data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), a large, population-based study conducted in the United States from 1988 to 1994, were analyzed for breakfast type, total daily energy intake, and BMI. The analyzed breakfast categories were "Skippers," "Meat/eggs," "Ready-to-eat cereal (RTEC)," "Cooked cereal," "Breads," "Quick Breads," "Fruits/vegetables," "Dairy," "Fats/sweets," and "Beverages." Analysis of covariance was used to estimate adjusted mean body mass index (BMI) and energy intake (kcal) as dependent variables. Covariates included age, gender, race, smoking, alcohol intake, physical activity and poverty index ratio.

Results: Subjects who ate RTEC, Cooked cereal, or Quick Breads for breakfast had significantly lower BMI compared to Skippers and Meat and Egg eaters (p < or = 0.01). Breakfast skippers and fruit/vegetable eaters had the lowest daily energy intake. The Meat and Eggs eaters had the highest daily energy intake and one of the highest BMIs.

Conclusions: This analysis provides evidence that skipping breakfast is not an effective way to manage weight. Eating cereal (ready-to-eat or cooked cereal) or quick breads for breakfast is associated with significantly lower body mass index compared to skipping breakfast or eating meats and/or eggs for breakfast.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Eating
  • Energy Intake*
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology