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STUDY: Starting the day with food is crucial to health
JOURNAL: Centre for Occupational and Health Psychology at Cardiff University
AUTHORS: Andy Smith
ABSTRACT: Breakfast may indeed be the most important meal of the day, according to new study findings. People who regularly eat breakfast may be less likely to get a cold or the flu, a UK researcher reports.
COMMENTARY: "Regular consumers of breakfast get fewer and less severe colds than non-consumers," study author Professor Andy Smith, director of the Centre for Occupational and Health Psychology at Cardiff University in the UK, told Reuters Health.
This adds to the increasing body of evidence showing the health benefits--physical and mental--of breakfast consumption, and potential problems associated with skipping breakfast.
Smith investigated "the psychology of the common cold" in a 10-week study of 100 healthy students who recorded information about their physical and mental health in a diary on a weekly basis. Students who developed a cold during the study period had their temperature recorded along with other measures of the severity of their symptoms. All of the students also completed regular computerized assessments of their mood and performance.
Nearly half of the participants developed at least one upper respiratory infection during the study period, Smith reports. Those with multiple illnesses, however, were more likely to report that they did not eat breakfast regularly.
Students who reported more negative life events, such as bereavement and divorce, in the 12 months prior to the study also developed more illnesses than their peers, the findings indicate.
Overall, cold and flu symptoms were associated with the study participants' not eating breakfast, as well as their feelings of stress and loneliness, according to Smith. Those prone to persistent anxiety also had more cold and flu symptoms.
The association between breakfast and cold symptoms has implications for a range of health issues, which in turn has implications for absenteeism from education (and) work and efficiency there.
In other findings, students who developed one or more upper respiratory infections reported a more negative mood than did their healthy peers and also exhibited slower responses to reaction tests.
Bottom line is that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and should never be skipped.