Published on October 20th, 2012 | by No Artificial
Skipping Breakfast Primes Your Brain To Seek High-Calorie Food
Brain scans show that not eating breakfast makes unhealthy and fatty foods appear far more attractive later in the day, according to a new study.
Almost everyone of us must have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Now, new research reveals that skipping the first meal of the day not only means you eat more at lunch, but also means your brain is primed to seek out fat.
In the study, Dr Tony Goldstone, of the MRC Clinical Science Centre at Imperial College London, scanned the brains of 21 people, who were all normal weight.
On one day they were given no breakfast before the scans and on a different day they were fed a large, 730 calorie, breakfast an hour and a half before.
After the scans on both days, the volunteers were given lunch, where they could eat as much as they liked.
The researchers said skipping breakfast created a “bias” in the brain in favor of fatty foods.
“Not surprisingly, when they are fasted they are hungry and they rate the high-calorie foods as more appealing than when they are fed,” explained Dr Tony Goldstone. “For low-calorie foods, the effect is not as marked. When they come out of the scanner, they are given lunch and they eat more when they haven’t had breakfast.”
The results, presented at the Neuroscience 2012 conference, showed the brain changed how it responded to pictures of unhealthy and high calorie foods, but not low calorie foods, when breakfast was skipped.
They showed part of the brain thought to be involved in “food appeal”, the orbitofrontal cortex, started to be more active on an empty stomach.
When the scientist offered the participants lunch at the end of the study, people ate a fifth more calories if breakfast was missed.
Nutrition specialists say morning meal is known to take the edge off appetite.
Future studies will investigate how obesity affects the same system in the brain.
Imperial College London