Sunday, April 4, 2010


If some one claims that foods with high fats are healthy on April 1, people will consider it as a prank to make them "April Fools". That was what happened when the news item, that a breakfast rich in fat could keep people free from long term metabolic diseases like CVD, blood pressure and diabetes, was flashed all over the world on 1 April 2010! However it became apparent that there is some truth in the claim which was based on the scientific findings appearing in the internationally reputed and peer reviewed publication, International Journal of Obesity.

According to these findings, the metabolic pattern for the day is decided by the type of food one eats first thing in the morning for breakfast (BF) and a fat loaded BF can make fat burning the predominant metabolic activity for the rest of the day. Eating varied types of foods subsequently does not result in unnecessary fat accumulation in the body, preempting the possibility of getting exposed to obesity related health disorders. In contrast eating a carbohydrate rich BF can only promote carbohydrate metabolism through out the day, making the fat components vulnerable to be deposited and consequent weight gain. High fat BF enables the body to transfer energy utilization between carbohydrate and fat during the entire day.

How far one can take it as a credible evidence to support regular consumption of fat-rich BF remains uncertain because these studies were carried out using mice as experimental animals. It certainly requires further corroborative studies using human subjects to validate the theory and if confirmed such a finding finding can have far reaching implication in diet formulation and food consumption practices. Probably the present mindset amongst consumers, health experts and nutritionists cannot accept the preaching that a BF based on "Bacon, Sausage and eggs along with beans, mushroom, tomato and black pudding" can be really healthy!

A similar study earlier, using women as subjects, had found that a high calorie BF, which can deliver as much as 50% of the daily energy need, prevents putting on weight but such a BF can be based on carbohydrates also. Conversely people who skip their daily BF tend to be invariably heavier. Another interesting observation is that women during conceiving can hope to get a baby boy if heavy BF is taken and a baby girl with a low calorie BF.

Looking at the Indian situation, the above studies probably mean that BF based on fried items like poori, parotha, vada, uppuma, dosa etc could be better than those based on idli, phulka, dry roti, plain rice preparations, puddings, puttu, idiyappam etc. Many people in India, because of circumstantial compulsions, take heavy meals in the morning before going to work, take a light meal along with them for the lunch at the work place before returning home after the work and in a city like Mumbai one can rarely see "fat" people on the road. Similarly some of the best administrators hailing from Tamilnadu during nineteen forties, fifties and sixties, were heavy eaters in the morning while being frugal during the remaining part of the day. The old English saying that "eating like a king at breakfast, like a prince at lunch and like a pauper during dinner" may yet turn out to be a home truth after all, till proved other wise.


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