Dr. Megan McCrory


Foods and Nutrition




breakfast, adiposity, snacking, energy intake, eating frequently


Objectives: Our aims were to describe morning eating habits and to determine whether different definitions for breakfast were independently related to adiposity and eating styles. Design: Cross-sectional data from previous studies on diet and obesity in our lab were used. Dietary intake and waking time was assessed by 3 unscheduled multiple-pass 24-hour recalls. Subjects whose 3-day average energy intake was not within ± 25% of predicted energy requirements were excluded from this analysis. Breakfast was defined in 3 ways: 1) self-defined by subject; 2) the first eating occasion after waking; and 3) the largest eating occasion before 11am.

Subjects: Subjects (n=31; 24 F/ 7 M; aged 22-49 years old), represented BMI ranging from 20-34 kg/m2.

Results: There were no significant differences among the 3 breakfast definitions in breakfast energy intake (BEI), EI not at breakfast, or the time interval between waking and eating. Controlling for age, sex, and physical activity one of the breakfast variables were associated with adiposity (BMI or percent body fat). When breakfast was defined as the first eating occasion after waking, BEI and the time interval between waking and eating had the strongest associations with eating behaviors and patterns. Eating sooner after waking was associated with higher dietary restraint (r= -0.57), and lower snacking/total eating frequencies (r= -0.32/-0.41), but also a higher intake of food away from home (r=0.46) (all p<0.10-<0.05). A higher BEI was also associated with lower total eating frequency (r=-0.36) but had n association with EI not at breakfast.

Conclusion: Despite the inability to detect differences among breakfast definitions, the significant associations found when breakfast was defined as the first eating occasion after waking support this definition as potentially influencing individual eating styles. However, because breakfast was not associated with adiposity, we propose that consuming breakfast earlier in the day may shift the pattern of daily food intake but not total daily energy intake