Is breakfast just like any other meal? Not when it comes to weight loss; most nutritionists and health experts say it's essential to eat something within a few hours of waking up. This is especially true for kids.
But over at the Diet Blog, there's an interesting take on the necessity, or lack thereof, of a consistent breakfast. The author, a clinical psychologist, argues that many of the reasons cited for eating within a few hours of waking up (it jump-starts your metabolism, you'll be hungry if you don't eat) are simply not true. I've cited scientists before who also don't think that it's such a bad thing if adults skip a meal now and then, even if it's breakfast—in fact, they say, occasional fasting may actually be good for you over the long haul.
I haven't fully investigated the science of breakfast, but I suspect that for people like the author of the Diet Blog post, who says she eats in accordance with her body's needs, skipping breakfast is fine. She'll eat when she's hungry. The trouble is that most people are not at all in tune with their body's needs; people who are overweight or on diets tend to skip meals not because they aren't hungry but because they think they shouldn't eat. It's no surprise that denying the urge to eat makes you even hungrier later, which can lead to bingeing.
I bet for those people who are struggling to lose weight or keep it off, avoiding the starvation/binge cycle by getting on a regular meal schedule that includes breakfast works wonders. (Successful participants in the National Weight Control Registry report eating breakfast most days of the week.) For those who have a pretty good handle on what their bodies need at any given time, and who have a healthy weight to prove it, maybe breakfast isn't a must-do.
Are you a regular breakfast eater? Do you eat it because you're hungry or because you think you should?