Medical myths: All about weight loss

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AS 2021 begins, many of us might be planning to lose some weight. However, when it comes to dieting and weight loss, confusion abounds. Here, we dispel 11 widely held myths.
During the holiday season, many people take on more calories than they work off. Consequently, adding a little extra weight at this time of year is not unusual.
Classically, January is a time of change, and many people go on health kicks that include weight loss. With that in mind, we address some common misconceptions.
The common adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day may or may not be true, but it seems unlikely that skipping the morning meal aids weight loss.
The rationale behind this strategy is that missing one meal a day leads to a lower overall intake of calories. However, the story is not so straightforward.
One study, published in 2010, analyzed food intake information from 2,184 people aged 9–15 years. Twenty years later, the researchers asked for the same information again.
They compared data from people who had skipped breakfast during childhood and adulthood with data from those who had never skipped breakfast or had done so only in adulthood.
Compared with the other groups, the participants who skipped breakfast during both childhood and adulthood tended to have larger waist circumferences, higher fasting insulin levels, and higher total cholesterol levels.
Sometimes, people who skip breakfast eat more during the rest of the day to counteract the deficit. But one 2013 study found that missing breakfast does not lead to eating more at lunch. The authors conclude that “Skipping breakfast may be an effective means to reduce daily energy intake in some adults.”
However, these researchers only monitored the participants’ food intake at lunch, not dinner. And the study only included 24 participants, so we should be wary of drawing solid conclusions from the findings.
A much larger 2007 study, which involved more than 25,000 adolescents, looked for links between skipping breakfast and having overweight. The researchers also assessed the roles of alcohol intake and levels of inactivity.
The scientists found that skipping breakfast had a stronger association with overweight than either alcohol consumption or levels of inactivity.
A 2020 systematic review and meta-analysis that appears in the journal Obesity Research & Clinical Practice concurs.

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