Objective: The role of breakfast energy in total daily energy intake is a matter of debate. Acute feeding experiments demonstrated that high breakfast energy leads to greater overall intake supported by cross-sectional data of a free-living population. On the other hand, a large intraindividual analysis has indicated that a high proportion of breakfast to overall intake is associated with lower daily energy intake. To evaluate these apparently contradictory results in greater detail both ways of analysis were applied to the same data set of dietary records.
Methods: On an intraindividual basis total daily energy intake was related to the absolute values of breakfast energy intake or to the ratio of breakfast to overall intake, respectively. Food intake of 280 obese and 100 normal weight subjects was analyzed who recorded over 10 (obese) or 14 (normal weight) consecutive days, respectively.
Results: Increasing breakfast energy was associated with greater overall intake in normal weight and obese subjects. The increasing ratio of breakfast to total daily energy intake was associated with a significant reduction of overall intake on days where post-breakfast energy was significantly reduced. Correlational and multiple regression analysis support the concept that absolute breakfast calories have the strongest influence on daily energy intake.
Conclusion: Reduced breakfast energy intake is associated with lower total daily intake. The influence of the ratio of breakfast to overall energy intake largely depends on the post-breakfast rather than breakfast intake pattern. Therefore, overweight and obese subjects should consider the reduction of breakfast calories as a simple option to improve their daily energy balance.