Cereal makers have happily encouraged the belief that eating breakfast can help keep us thin and bring other benefits, partly by paying for studies that seem to support the idea.

So, does that mean breakfast is bad for you? Not that either. What it does show is how difficult it can be to sort the hype from reliable dietary advice when studies are funded by the makers of Froot Loops, nutrition science is often inconclusive, and gray areas can be spun for marketing.

hat doesn’t mean particular breakfasts can’t help some people control their appetites, or bring other benefits like energy. Schlundt’s study was tiny. But it shows how easy it is to simplify the complexities and limitations of nutrition science and cherry-pick the findings.

Our understanding of what’s healthy can evolve, which is why dietary guidelines are regularly updated to reflect the latest science. A recommendation that breakfast can help with weight control — inserted in 2010 — is no longer in the guidelines. With its last update, the government says it looked at broader eating patterns.

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