You may have heard the cliché, "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day." But is there any evidence to support this statement?

Ninety-two percent of Americans agree that breakfast is an important meal to achieve a healthy diet, but only 46% report eating breakfast every day, according to the International Food Information Council Foundation’s 2008 Food & Health Survey. The definition of breakfast may relate to time of consumption, specific kinds of food included, or the fact that it is the first meal of the day. Regardless of how one defines it, the nutritional impact of a healthy breakfast cannot be underestimated.

Breakfast consumption and its effect on health have been studied for many years. The Iowa Breakfast Studies conducted in the 1960s noted breakfast consumption had a positive impact on cognitive and physical performance and overall dietary quality, particularly among children. Further studies over the years confirmed these results and had a significant role in the development and implementation of U.S. Dept. of Agriculture-sponsored school breakfast programs.

Consumption of breakfast may improve the nutritional quality of the diet. Research indicates children and adolescents who regularly consume breakfast have higher daily intakes of energy, carbohydrate, protein, fat, and fiber. They are also more likely to meet daily nutrient intake recommendations for vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, zinc, and iron (Rampersaud et al., 2005). In addition, breakfast can provide more than 20% of the daily contribution of these essential nutrients as well as the B-complex vitamins, according to USDA’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2001–2002. The 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines do not specifically address breakfast consumption. However, it is clear that without consuming breakfast, it is difficult to meet the current recommendations for consumption of fruit and whole grains, and adequate amounts of essential nutrients, particularly calcium, folate, potassium, magnesium, and fiber. Epidemiologic evidence suggests that a number of foods frequently consumed at breakfast may be related to a reduced risk of chronic diseases.

Keeping this in mind, should breakfast consumption become a recommendation for the 2010 Dietary Guidelines? If so, guidance on what foods comprise a healthy breakfast will need to be addressed. For example, incorporation of whole grains into breakfast is an effective way to meet the whole-grain recommendations. In a study among approximately 86,000 male physicians, the relative risk of cardiovascular-specific mortality significantly decreased with an increase in the number of servings of whole-grain cereals relative to refined-grain cereals (Liu et al., 2003). Consumption of whole-grain ready-to-eat cereals assists in meeting nutrient intake recommendations, provides a higher daily intake of fiber and calcium, and may be an important contributor to lower Body Mass Index (BMI), report Barton et al. (2005).

Evidence suggests that breakfast consumption may improve academic performance. However, interpretation of these results can be complicated due to confounding factors, such as socioeconomic status. Short-term (< 3 mo) observational studies indicate undernourished children may preferentially benefit from breakfast consumption. Benefits, such as attitude or academic performance, are inconsistent over a longer period.

The relationship between breakfast consumption and body weight has not been clearly established. There are conflicting results from cross-sectional studies when analyzing the relationship in children and adolescents between BMI and breakfast consumption (Rampersaud et al., 2005). Logic, supported by clinical research, indicates skipping breakfast is not an effective way to manage weight. Data from NHANES III (1988–1994) suggest adults who consume ready-to-eat cereals, cooked cereals, or quick breads have a significantly lower BMI than those who skip breakfast, even after adjusting for confounding factors (Cho et al., 2003). In a cross-sectional study among individuals from the National Weight Control Registry, Wyatt et al. (2002) noted that 78% of nearly 3,000 individuals who successfully maintained a 30-lb weight loss for at least one year consumed breakfast daily. Although this does not establish causality, breakfast consumption on a regular basis could be an important parameter of long-term weight-loss maintenance.

Overall, research indicates that regular breakfast consumption provides various health benefits. In addition, breakfast provides energy and an array of important nutrients that are part of a healthy diet, especially for children.

References for the above studies are available from the authors.

by Roger Clemens, Dr.P.H.,
Contributing Editor
Scientific Advisor, ETHorn, La Mirada, Calif.
[email protected]

by Joy Dubost, Ph.D., R.D.,
Contributing Editor
IFT Food Science Communicator
[email protected]


Aug. 5–6: Univ. of Wisconsin Milk Pasteurization and Process Control School. Madison, Wis. Contact Scott Rankin at 608-263-2008, or visit or

Aug. 6–8: Rutgers Univ. Culinology 101 Part 2. New Brunswick, N.J. Contact Kristyn Saunders at 732-932-9271, or e-mail [email protected], or visit

Aug. 11–15: Rutgers Univ. Introduction to Food Science. New Brunswick, N.J. Contact Kristyn Saunders at 732-932-9271, or e-mail [email protected], or visit

Aug. 25–Dec. 5: Institute for Food Laws & Regulations, Michigan State Univ. International Food Law Distance Education courses. Contact Mary Anne Verleger at 517-355-8295, or e-mail [email protected], or visit

Sept. 9–10: Univ. of Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Short Course. Madison, Wis. Contact John Jaeggi at 608-262-2015, or visit, or

Sept. 16–18: American Meat Science Association Pork 101. Stillwater, Okla. Visit

Sept. 22–23: Rutgers Univ. Sensory Evaluation. New Brunswick, N.J. Contact Kristyn Saunders at 732-932-9271, or e-mail [email protected], or visit

Sept. 29–Oct. 2: Auburn Univ. and American Egg Board National Egg Products School. Auburn, Ala. Contact Lesli Kerth at 334-844-2634, or e-mail [email protected], or visit

Oct. 6–10: Univ. of Wisconsin Wisconsin Cheese Technology Short Course. Madison, Wis. Contact Mark Johnson at 608-262-0275 or Bill Wendorff at 608-263-2015, or visit or

Oct. 14–17: Penn State Univ. Sanitation Short Course. University Park, Pa. Contact Luke LaBorde at 814-863-2298 or [email protected], or visit

Oct. 15: Rutgers Univ. Good Manufacturing Practices. New Brunswick, N.J. Contact Kristyn Saunders at 732-932-9271, or e-mail [email protected], or visit

Oct. 28–29: Univ. of Wisconsin Manufacture of Dairy Ingredients with Membrane Systems Short Course. Madison, Wis. Contact Bill Wendorff at 608-263-2015 or Karen Smith at 608-265-9605, or visit or

Oct. 29–31: Rutgers Univ. Culinology 101 Part 3. New Brunswick, N.J. Contact Kristyn Saunders at 732-932-9271, or e-mail [email protected], or visit

Nov. 4–5: Univ. of Wisconsin Cheese Grading and Evaluation Short Course. Madison, Wis. Contact Scott Rankin at 608-263-2008, or visit or

Nov. 5–7: Rutgers Univ. HACCP: Basic Concept. New Brunswick, N.J. Contact Kristyn Saunders at 732-932-9271, or e-mail [email protected], or visit

Nov. 13–14: Univ. of Massachusetts Food Emulsions Short Course. Amherst, Mass. Contact David Julian McClements at 413-545-1019 or [email protected] or visit

How to List Events
The Events section of Food Technology lists the dates of food industry conventions, meetings, conferences, short courses, and workshops sponsored by trade and professional associations and by not-for-profit organizations such as scientific associations, universities, and government agencies.

Because of the limits on the number of pages available for Events in this magazine, only events taking place in the next few months are printed here. A more complete list of events is available on IFT’s Web site at

To have your organization’s event considered for listing, complete the online form on the Events page of by the first of the month, at least two months prior to the issue in which you would like the event listed.


Aug. 3–6: International Association for Food Protection IAFP 2008 95th Annual Meeting. Columbus, Ohio. Visit

Aug. 10–14: Society for Industrial Microbiology SIM Annual Meeting & Exhibition. San Diego, Calif. Call 703-691-3357, ext. 24, e-mail [email protected], or visit

Sept. 21–24: AACC International Annual Meeting 2008. Honolulu, Hawaii. Call 651-454-7250, e-mail [email protected], or visit

Sept. 22–25: American Filtration & Separations Society Infrastructure, Sustainability, and Testing Management Conference. Charlotte, N.C. Visit

Oct. 12–17: International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry 13th International Biotechnology Symposium & Exhibition. Dalian, China. Call +86-411-8437-9181, e-mail [email protected], or visit

Oct. 14–16: International Milk Genomics Consortium 5th International Symposium: Milk Genomics & Human Health. Sydney, Australia. Contact Jennifer Giambroni at 415-254-4549, or e-mail [email protected], or visit

Oct. 14–17: Asociacion Mexicana de Ciencia de los Alimentos Food Science and Food Biotechnology in Developing Countries. Queretaro, Mexico. Contact Carlos Regalado-González at 442-192-1304 or Juliana Morales-Castro at 442-192-1200, ext. 5573, or [email protected], or visit

Oct. 19–22: North Carolina State Univ., North Carolina Sea Grant, Univ. of North Carolina, and North Carolina Biotechnology Center 8th Joint Meeting of the Seafood Science and Technology Society and Atlantic Fisheries Technology Conference and 1st North Carolina Marine Biotechnology Symposium. Wrightsville Beach, N.C. Call 252-222-6334, e-mail [email protected], or visit

Oct. 19–22: Univ. of Wisconsin 28th Food Microbiology Symposium. River Falls, Wis. Contact Doreen Cegielski at 715-425-3704 or [email protected], or visit

Nov. 4–9: European Federation of Food Science and Technology First European Food Congress. Ljubljana, Slovenia. Contact Richard Hart at +44(0)1460-259776, or e-mail [email protected], or visit

Nov. 9–14: International Dairy Federation FIL-IDF World Dairy Summit & Exhibition. Mexico City, Mexico. Visit