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Skipping Breakfast Can Make You Fatter: Study

Update Date: Oct 17, 2012 07:43 AM EDT

Although it is well known that the best way to stay fit and have a fabulous body is to exercise regularly, the lazy ones among us always tend to opt for the easier ways out, but one way may be taking a toll on their health: Skipping meals.

While most of the time, it is the teenagers who try to chase the media defined "perfect figure" by skipping meals, there are plenty of adults too who do the same. However, experts say and researchers in a latest study have found that skipping meals, especially breakfast could actually do the opposite of making you lose weight.  

Researchers at Imperial College, London claim that those who skip breakfast not only end up eating more lunch, but they also crave for fatty food and food high in sugar, in turn increasing their chances of gaining more weight.  

For the study, the brains of 21 volunteers were scanned by the researchers while they were shown pictures of different foods, such as salads and chocolate.

Also, the volunteers were asked to also rate the food according to how they appealed them. The food items included vegetables, calorie-laden chocolates, desserts, cakes, pizzas and burgers, Mail Online reported.

This was done, once after the participants had had breakfast, and once again on a morning when they hadn't eaten since the night before.

Later, the participants were given a pasta lunch and were given the freedom to eat as much as they liked.

It was found that participants who skipped breakfast ate about 250 calories more than those who had their breakfast.

Also, people who skipped breakfast reportedly found high-calorie foods more tempting, with chocolate being the most appealing of all.

Researcher Tony Goldstone said that this suggests that when people skipped breakfast, if they had a choice for meals, they will go for meals with more calories and unhealthy ones. Further evidence of the same was seen when the brain scans of the volunteers was analyzed. It seems, after skipping breakfast, a region in the brain called the orbital frontal cortex, seemed to light up more. Orbital frontal cortex is responsible for telling the brain how important or tasty a food is.

Apparently, hunger makes our gut release hormones that act on the orbital frontal cortex, which make it think about sugary and fatty food. This theory might make more sense when looked at in terms of a famine situation. In such a time, the body would experience hunger and would want to store as many calories as possible in case there was no supply of food to the stomach.  

 "Through the participants' MRI results and observations of how much they ate at lunch, we found ample evidence that fasting made people hungrier and increased the appeal of high-calorie foods and the amount people ate. Beware of going for long periods without eating because you are going to crave high-calorie foods much more because of changes in how your orbital frontal cortex works,' Dr Goldstone said according to the report.

The research was presented at the Society for Neuroscience's annual conference in New Orleans.

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