Is breakfast the most important meal of the day for you?

Researchers at the University of Bath are looking for volunteers to take part in an innovative project designed to explore how important breakfast is to our health.

The team from the University’s School for Health has been awarded £481,000 for a three-year investigation into whether regularly skipping breakfast can lead to weight gain and associated negative health consequences.

The research grant was awarded to Dr James Betts and Dr Dylan Thompson, from the Human Physiology Research Group at the University.

Dr Betts said: "It is a commonly held belief that eating breakfast is an important part of a healthy diet. This is based largely on scientific research showing that people who do not eat breakfast are more likely to be overweight and have an increased risk of conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

"However, much of this same research equally supports that those who skip breakfast also tend to have a higher fat and alcohol intake and are less physically active anyway. So, it remains to be established whether there is a direct effect of breakfast on improved health and, if so, what might be the underlying mechanisms of this effect."

The research team will be working in collaboration with colleagues in the Department of Biology & Biochemistry at the University of Bath, and the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Nottingham. The teams will carry out their research both in the laboratory, measuring metabolic function and cardiovascular disease risk, and using the latest technology to record the volunteer's everyday living conditions while they are away from the laboratory.

The project will be led by Dr Judith Richardson from the Human Physiology Research Group, who said: "We are looking for up to 70 men and women between the ages of 18 and 60 to take part in the research and are particularly interested to hear from those at both ends of the spectrum who either very rarely skip breakfast or indeed skip breakfast on most days of the week".

Volunteers will be invited to the laboratory at the University of Bath campus on five separate occasions, which can be scheduled flexibly over a 12-week period. The investigation initially involves two separate tests to compare how each individual responds to having breakfast on one day relative to skipping breakfast on another. Thereafter, all volunteers will be randomly divided into two separate groups, with half asked to eat breakfast everyday and the other half asked to skip breakfast everyday. Follow-up tests a few weeks later will then reveal whether and how humans adapt in response to regularly including or omitting breakfast from our usual diet.

The study is funded by the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council.

There is no payment for volunteers but expenses are covered and each volunteer will benefit from comprehensive feedback regarding their individual results. For more information, please contact Dr Judith Richardson on 01225 383 566 or email J.D.Richardson@bath.ac.uk

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