Green Right Now Reports

Breakfast is important. You’ve likely heard this before, and now, the evidence is growing.

Oatmeal or another high-protein breakfast can help set the pace for the day.

Research shows that the 18 percent of Americans older than 2 who regularly skip breakfast tend to weigh more and have other unhealthy habits, like eating too many sugary drinks or snacks, according to food experts speaking at the recent  Institute of Food Technologists 2012 annual meeting in Las Vegas.

Breakfast skippers miss out on minerals and nutrients that could help kick off their day, and then they tend to compensate by eating 40 percent more sweets, 55 percent more soft drinks and 45 percent fewer vegetables, than those who at breakfast, according to research by IFT members.

“Targeting that behavior could lead to a reduction in obesity,” said Heather Leidy, PhD, assistant professor in the department of nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri.

In addition to falling victim to the unhealthy compensatory behavior, breakfast skippers appear to suffer metabolic consequences throughout the day, Leidy said.

She studied a group of 10 breakfast-skipping teenagers, splitting them into small groups that consumed no breakfast, a normal-protein breakfast or a high-protein breakfast.

By measuring their hunger levels and other indicators, Leidy found that eating a healthy breakfast of any kind lead to more satiety and less overeating throughout the day.

The teens who ate the high-protein breakfast seemed to derive the most benefit, consuming about 200 calories less in evening snacking than the other groups, she said.

Leidy’s study sample was extremely small, almost anecdotal, but it did incorporate state-of-the-art science. Magnetic resonance imaging of the students who ate the protein-rich breakfast showed brain signals controlling food desires several hours after breakfast.

The non-profit IFT, based in Chicago, has 18,000 members.