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Breakfast cereal and body image: study

Breakfast cereal and body image: study

Regular consumption of a cereal breakfast is related to improved mood, weight and body satisfaction, as found by ground breaking research from Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU).

In the study, one group of participants were given a cereal breakfast and the other group were asked to eat a muffin breakfast comprised of one commercially produced chocolate chip muffin and a pure apple juice (400 kcal) every day for seven days.

Results showed that the cereal breakfast was perceived to be lower in calories, made participants fuller, happier, relaxed, and more satisfied about weight and body compared to the muffin breakfast (Ps <0.001). This evidence indicates the power of perceptions of foods to body image satisfaction and general health interventions.  

Abstract
Background: Breakfast has psychological and nutritional benefits due to physiological and/or cognitive mechanisms.  The beliefs people hold about the benefits of breakfast may determine psychological reactions to consumption.

Objective: The objectives were to: 1) test the effect of consuming isocaloric breakfasts which appeared to be different in calorie content on appetite, mood, weight and body satisfaction; 2) assess whether change in daily dietary intake occurred.

Design: 123 women were randomly assigned to either a cereal (392 kcal; n=59) or muffin (400 kcal; n=64) breakfast that "appeared" different in calorie content but unaware they were isocaloric. The Hospital Anxiety and Depression, Three-Factor-Eating, Body Shape, Rosenberg Self-Esteem and Food Frequency (FFQ) questionnaires were completed before and after the seven-day intervention. Participants estimated calories of breakfast, appetite, mood, weight and body satisfaction.

Results: Cereal breakfast was perceived to be lower in calories, made participants fuller, happier, relaxed, and more satisfied about weight and body compared to the muffin breakfast (Ps <0.001). Changes in estimated protein, fibre, micronutrients, and percentage contribution of core food groups to total energy intake (Ps <0.05) were compatible with the design.
 
Conclusions: Breakfasts were isocaloric yet the cereal breakfast was rated lower in calories and produced more positive psychological reactions. This evidence indicates the power of perceptions of foods to influence important attributes of health and wellbeing which could be valuable in dietary interventions where mood and body image satisfaction affect outcome.  

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