The subtitle of this article should be “A Post in which I Am Relentlessly Attacked by Science.”
Because I’ve been on a roll lately with the studies. I keep finding ones that have results that make me go “Oh, C’MON.”
If I were a different kind of person, I’d probably mutter “hogwash” under my breath and keep on a-moving. Or I might dive into the study, combing over the methodology to find any old problem with it that I could pick apart, just to make myself feel a little better.
But I’m not that different kind of person. I’m me. I have respect for the scientific method. And I recognize that the point of social science is not to confirm what we want to be true (although sometimes it can incidentally function that way), but to do its best to make it so we understand how humans operate in an unbiased way. (Because if you don’t have something like that, you’re basically at the mercy of being controlled by your own confirmation bias.)
If You Skip Breakfast, You’re More Likely to Have a Mood Disorder
Anyway, I’ve never been a big breakfast eater. Basically, I’m just not in the mood to eat when I first get up. Yeah, I know all about that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” stuff. My stomach just doesn’t want food until lunchtime usually. And I had been skeptical about that saying about breakfast, thinking it could very well be the invention of people advertising for cereal companies. It wouldn’t be the first time when what started as an ad slogan became internalized as “common knowledge.”
So I was quite irritated to discover today’s study. Essentially, they found that folks who either skipped or delayed their breakfast had a higher incidence of mood disorders than people who ate something at breakfast time (whether this was more of a meal or part of a grazing pattern).
Boo. Annoying findings.
At this point, it would be tempting to point out the fact that this study was conducted in Australia. And to claim that Australians probably function differently than any other culture in the world — and most certainly mine (I live in America).
The trouble is that this isn’t the only study that has found a link like that. And they’ve been found in other cultures as well. For example, here’s one that found something similar in Korea.
Skipping Breakfast May in Fact Be a Symptom Rather Than a Cause of Mood Disorders
Now of course, correlation isn’t causation. So the question remains as to why this link happens. The current study’s authors speculate that this link between skipping breakfast and mood disorders might be due to circadian rhythm or hormonal effects. This would make a lot of sense because both of those have been linked strongly with mood disorders.
So skipping breakfast may in fact be a symptom rather than a cause of mood disorders.
That actually makes the most sense to me. Since breakfast isn’t even a thing I’m opting out of; it’s something my body usually doesn’t want.
This post is part of an ongoing Poly Land feature called Psyched for the Weekend, in which I geek out with brief takes about some of my favorite psychological studies and concepts. For the entire series, please see this link.
Books by Page Turner: