Day-to-day regularity in breakfast consumption is associated with weight status in a prospective cohort of women

Int J Obes (Lond). 2020 Jan;44(1):186-194. doi: 10.1038/s41366-019-0356-6. Epub 2019 Mar 29.


Background: Evidence suggests that regular eating patterns (i.e., consistent day-to-day frequency and timing of consumption) may be favorable with respect to weight status, and breakfast may be a particularly important meal for weight maintenance. We examined the relationship between regular breakfast consumption habits and weight status among women.

Materials and methods: Modified Poisson regression models examined day-to-day regularity in breakfast consumption among 46,037 women in the prospective Sister Study cohort in relation to weight status. Cross-sectional outcomes included overweight (body mass index (BMI) ≥ 25.0 kg/m2) and obesity (BMI ≥ 30.0 kg/m2); waist circumference (WC) ≥ 88 cm; and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) ≥ 0.85. Self-reported weight 5 years post-baseline was used to calculate 5 kg weight gain and incident overweight and obesity using BMI.

Results: Compared to women who reported eating breakfast 3 to 4 days/week (irregular breakfast eaters), women who ate breakfast 7 days/week were between 11% to 17% less likely to be obese as measured by WHR (prevalence ratio (PR): 0.89; 95%CI: 0.85, 0.94), WC (PR: 0.85; 95%CI: 0.82, 0.88), and BMI (PR: 0.83; 95%CI: 0.79, 0.87) after multivariable adjustment. Women who never ate breakfast were between 11% to 22% less likely to be obese as measured by WHR (PR: 0.89; 95%CI: 0.83, 0.96), WC (PR: 0.82; 95%CI: 0.78, 0.87), and BMI (PR: 0.78; 95%CI: 0.72, 0.84) compared to irregular breakfast eaters. Prospective analyses showed a 21% and 28% lower risk of 5-year incident obesity among participants who always (relative risk (RR): 0.79; 95%CI: 0.70, 0.90) or never (RR: 0.72; 95%CI: 0.59, 0.87) ate breakfast, respectively, compared to those who ate breakfast 3 to 4 days/week. No association was observed for incident 5 kg weight gain.

Conclusions: Results suggest that a regular breakfast consumption habit, comprising eating breakfast every day or never, may be important for maintaining a healthy weight.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Breakfast / physiology*
  • Diet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Waist Circumference