Breakfast most important meal of the day, especially for the obese

The right amount of sleep reduces stroke risk, and the loss-gain formula to get employees exercising

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 February, 2016, 6:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 February, 2016, 6:00am

Eating breakfast could help obese people get more active

To breakfast or not to breakfast? If weight loss is your goal, there’s no conclusive evidence whether having it or skipping it will matter. But if you want to be more physically active in the day, then a new study shows eating breakfast could help. In a six-week study of obese people aged 21 to 60 years old, those who ate breakfast (at least 700 kilocalories of whatever they wanted by 11am) had more physical activity in the morning and reduced food intake later in the day, compared to those who were only allowed water until noon. The two groups, however, ate similar amounts overall. The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, is part of the University of Bath’s three-year “Bath Breakfast Project”.

“Our studies highlight some of the [impacts of breakfast on our health], but ‘how important’ breakfast is really depends on the individual and their own personal goals,” says lead researcher Dr James Betts. “For example, if weight loss is the key there is little to suggest that just having breakfast or skipping it will matter. However, based on other markers of a healthy lifestyle, like being more active or controlling blood sugar levels, then there’s evidence that breakfast may help.”

Paying employees to exercise doesn’t work, but the reverse might

Monetary loss, rather than gain, is more effective in helping people be more physically active, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Researchers sought to determine the effectiveness of three methods to frame financial incentives to increase physical activity among overweight and obese adults. Participants in a 13-week trial were given a goal of 7,000 steps a day and were randomly assigned to the control group or one of three financial incentives: gain (a fixed amount of money given each day the goal was achieved); lottery (daily eligibility for cash if goal was achieved); and loss (cash given monthly upfront and a small amount removed each day the goal was not achieved). The researchers found that the gain incentive was no more effective than control. In comparison, a loss incentive resulted in a 50 per cent relative increase in the average proportion of time participants achieved their physical activity goals. According to the authors, these findings may be especially helpful to employers looking to implement workplace wellness programmes.

Getting just the right amount of sleep and regular exercise lowers stroke risk

Getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night and exercising 30 to 60 minutes, three to six times a week, are healthy behaviours that can greatly reduce one’s stroke risk, according to research presented at the recent American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference in Los Angeles. Researchers analysed health, lifestyle and other factors among 288,888 adults who participated in a survey from 2004 to 2013. Average sleepers – those who slept seven to eight hours a night – were 25 per cent less likely to have experienced a stroke. Long sleepers – those who got more than eight hours a night – were 146 per cent more likely to have suffered a stroke. Short sleepers, who slept less than seven hours a night, were 22 per cent more likely to report having had a stroke.