The 2015 Cuthbertson Medal has been awarded to Dr James Betts, Senior Lecturer in Nutrition, Metabolism and Statistics at the University of Bath for his research into breakfast consumption.  Dr Betts and his team investigated the effects of breakfast consumption on people’s daily energy expenditure.

We interviewed Dr Betts to find out more about his work and what motivated him to carry out this research.  Dr Betts first became interested in breakfast as he doesn’t eat a morning meal himself, a practice which is widely believed to be unhealthy.  After carrying out his own review of the literature, Dr Betts was surprised to find that the concept that breakfast is the most important meal of that day is ‘grounded almost entirely in cross-sectional observations’.  There appeared to be no causal evidence to support this.

So what do you do if you are a nutrition researcher and want to know whether you should eat breakfast?  You design a randomised control trial (RTC) to test the hypothesis.  Bath Breakfast Project was supported by the University of Bath with funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). 

Dr Betts’ research team looked at laboratory-based molecular data, field-based measurements and used new wearable technologies to ‘translate metabolic and behavioural mechanisms into real-world health outcomes’.

So did the results of the study change Dr Betts dietary habits?  No, but he reassured us that this wasn’t because the study found support for not consuming breakfast, it is purely based on personal choice.

Dr Betts will be presented his findings and the public health implications of his research at our winter conference on the ‘Roles of sleep and circadian rhythms in the origin and nutritional management of obesity and metabolic disease’ in December 2015.