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Skipping breakfast may lead to weight GAIN

September 09, 2013 14:42 IST

Skipping breakfast may lead to weight GAIN


Sadiya Bashir Upade, Business Standard

A recent survey highlights how an astonishingly high number of Indians don't consider breakfast an essential meal.

For Mumbai resident Aastha Agnihotri, 24, the day starts quite early. From getting up at 6 am to scrambling to catch the 7 am local, it is all a rush. This means no time or propensity to have breakfast.

Neha Pinto, 21, is not an early riser like Agnihotri, but the struggle to reach work on time is the same. She leaves a mere ten-minute window for breakfast, which usually means two slices of toast with tea, or just tea. Then, there are days when breakfast is skipped altogether for the lack of time.

Agnihotri and Pinto are not alone. If a recent survey by Kellogs is to be believed, one in four respondents skip breakfast, while an astonishing 72 per cent have a nutritionally inadequate morningmeal.

The survey, conducted across Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata, found that only 3 per cent people in these cities regard breakfast as essential.

"Although people in India are increasingly becoming health conscious, this does not reflect in their eating behaviour. Changing lifestyles and behavioural patterns result in meal skipping or inadequate food intakes, particularly at breakfast time," says Malathi Sivaramkrishnan, research director, Research Centre, College of Home Science, Nirmala Niketan, Mumbai, who led the survey.

Mumbai residents skip breakfast the most, followed by those in Delhi where adults claim to skip the morning meal on an average of 16 days in a month, according to the survey.

This does not speak well of city dwellers. Nutritionists and various studies have proved that breakfast is indeed the most important meal of the day.

Photographs: Or Hiltch/ Creative Commons


Skipping breakfast may lead to weight GAIN

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Breakfast, literally means 'breaking the overnight fast', says Niti Desai, consultant nutritionist at the Cumballa Hill Hospital. Breakfast helps to kick-start the day and skipping or skimping through the meal can hamper cognitive abilities, she adds.

In fact, there is a correlation between breakfast and weight.

Surveys have shown that 95 per cent of the people who are overweight are skipping breakfast, says Desai.

"When you skip breakfast, hunger builds up, and you overcompensate later by eating in bigger quantities and binging on junk food. The longer the gap between meals, the more your metabolic rate goes down, which is another reason for weight gain," she says.

While breakfast options vary according to geographies, with Chennai showing an inclination towards dosas/idlis and Delhi towards paranthas, nearly 50 per cent of the housewives, 30 per cent of the elderly and 20 per cent working adults have only a beverage for breakfast, says Sivaramkrishnan.

No Meal Trend

Skipping breakfast across age groups

All -- 27 per cent

Less than 12 years -- 24 per cent

13 to 15 years -- 32 per cent

16 to 17 years -- 32 per cent

18+ years -- 24  percent

Meals people give a miss

Breakfast -- 27 per cent

Lunch -- 9 per cent

Dinner -- 5 per cent

None -- 59 per cent


Photographs: André Karwath/ Creative Commons

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Skipping breakfast may lead to weight GAIN

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Eating out vs home-cooked breakfast

While 91 per cent of the respondents in the Kellogs' survey showed preference for home-cooked breakfast, this doesn't stop them from experimenting with breakfast options outside.

An earlier study by McDonald's had found that 18 per cent of people in cities prefer eating out of home, driven by convenience and variety.

Out-of-home breakfast in Mumbai was high during the whole week (21 per cent), while in Delhi it peaked during weekends. "There is no problem in indulging in outside food once in a while but essentially these are empty calories," says Desai.

Gender bias in breakfast

The survey found that across age groups, the ratio is slightly skewed towards females when it comes to skipping breakfast (51 per cent vs 47 per cent). Also, women and children tend to forego the morning meal more often that males.

Photographs: Jorge Barrios/ Creative Commons

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The ideal breakfast

The complaint most people have is that a heavy breakfast makes them lethargic. Eighty four per cent respondents, hence, believe that breakfast should be light. So, how does one achieve the balance or what does an ideal breakfast include?

Nutritionists believe that breakfast should provide essential nutrients like protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals besides energy.

"The idea is to have a mix of carbohydrates and proteins. Eating just carbohydates gives you an instant sugar rush and when the sugar falls it makes you feel lethargic. Like, if you have upma or poha in plenty that will make you feel lethargic as it is all carbs," says Desai.

Some of the good options are (randomly arranged):

1) Idli sambhar
2) Egg white omlette with whole wheat bread
3) Usal with whole wheat bread
4) Paneer toast
5) High-fibre cereal with skimmed milk
6) Parantha without oil, with curd
7) Dalia or porridge with skimmed milk.

Photographs: Soumya dey/ Creative Commons

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