Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day. After all, it’s when you literally break your overnight fast. And there are lots of good, healthy reasons for having a good, healthy meal in the morning.

Some studies have even suggested that eating breakfast might help promote weight loss, while skipping breakfast might lead to weight gain. However, a new meta-analysis of 13 randomized trials conducted over the last 30 years (mostly in the United States and the United Kingdom) finds no strong evidence to support the idea that eating breakfast helps people lose pounds.

The researchers found that people who ate breakfast tended to consume more calories per day than those who skipped it — about 260 additional calories — so it’s unlikely that they ate significantly lighter at other meals.

The authors also found that people who ate breakfast tended to weigh slightly more: 15.5 ounces.

None of this, however, should be deemed a knock on eating breakfast if you want to lose weight. The scientists noted existing evidence is pretty scant and not especially rigorous. What’s most important is what you eat for breakfast. That bowl of frosted flakes isn’t so grrreat.

Measles Redux

The current outbreak of measles in multiple states has prompted a demand for the vaccine. Health officials are urging anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated (usually done during childhood) to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

For a small subset of adults who have been vaccinated, it might be time for another dose. The measles vaccine first became available in 1963. Persons who got the standard two shots for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) after 1967 are likely protected for life.

Most people born before 1957 are believed to have acquired protection through natural infections during measles outbreaks back then, but some may not be immune. Doctors can assess a patient’s immunity levels with a blood test. If a patient is not immune, they can get one dose of the vaccine immediately and a second dose 28 days later.

Persons who received the measles vaccine between 1963 and 1967 may have gotten a version that is not as long-lasting. They should be checked, too.

Get Me That, Stat!

Since the 1970s, the number of fast-food restaurants in the United States has more than doubled to about 250,000, according to the Agriculture Department. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than one-third of American adults eat fast food on any given day.

Doc Talk

Borborygmus: A rumbling or gurgling noise resulting from movement of fluid and gas in the intestines


555.40: Average amount, in dollars, that U.S. community hospitals spent on prescription drugs for each admitted patient in 2017

18.5: Percentage increase in average total drug spending per hospital admission from 2015

27.5: Money spent, in millions, by drug industry’s most prominent lobbying group, PhRMA, on lobbying activities in 2018 — a new record

— The nonpartisan and objective research organization NORC at University of Chicago, PhRMA

Best Medicine

Good health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.

Medical History

This week in 1867, Dr. William G. Bonwill of Philadelphia invented the dental mallet, basically a little hammer used for a variety of oral treatments, while watching a telegraph key sounder operate in a local hotel. (In his mind, Bonwill must have said, “Ahhhh.”)

Ig Nobel Apprised

The Ig Nobel Prizes celebrate achievements that make people laugh and then think — looks at real science that are hard to take seriously and even harder to ignore.

In 2018, the Ig Nobel Prize in medical education went to Akira Horiuchi for his medical report “Colonoscopy in the Sitting Position: Lessons Learned from Self-Colonoscopy,” published in the journal Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.


Q: What is the interstitium?

A: It’s the fluid-filled compartmentalized space within and between all of the tissues of your body. Last year, researchers published a paper describing the interstitium in detail and concluded it’s a structure that’s the same everywhere you look at it in the body, and so are its functions.

They’ve proposed designating the interstitium the newest “organ” — and maybe the biggest, as it represents 20 percent of the body by volume.

Fit to Be Tried

There are thousands of exercises, and you’ve only got one body, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try them all:

Burpees are a really good whole-body exercise — a kind of hybrid jump-squat-pushup — that promotes both cardiovascular endurance and muscle strength.

Start by standing upright with your feet shoulder width apart and your arms down at your sides. Then, with your hands out in front of you, start to squat down. When your hands reach the ground, pop your legs straight back into a pushup position. Do a pushup.

Come back up to the starting pushup position and jump your feet up to your palms by hinging at the waist. Get your feet as close to your hands as you can get them. Stand up straight, bringing your arms above your head, and jump.

That’s just one rep! Try to do three sets of 10. Add reps and sets as you get stronger.

Last Words

“A dying man can do nothing easy.” — American statesman, writer and scientist Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), complaining about the difficulty of finding a more comfortable position on his deathbed.

Scott LaFee is a staff writer at UC San Diego Health and the former chief science writer at The San Diego Union-Tribune, where he covered science, medicine and technology. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.