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Skipping Breakfast Linked To Weight Gain, Belly Fat

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A new study suggests eating a regular meal in the mornings may help you stay slimmer. The research found that adults who eat breakfast more often are less likely to gain weight and develop dangerous belly fat.

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic analyzed the breakfast habits of about 350 adults. They found that people who ate breakfast regularly only gained an average of about three pounds over the past year. Those who occasionally ate breakfast put on about five pounds, while those who skipped a morning meal entirely gained about eight pounds.

Doctors are still working to unravel the correlation between breakfast and weight, but there is a leading theory.

"If you eat a good breakfast in the morning, you're less likely to be hungry during the course of the day," Dr. Virend Somers, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic, told CBS News.

The study also found that eating breakfast reduced the risk of accumulating belly fat, which can be especially unhealthy.

"It's the fat that produces toxins that damage the blood vessels," Somers said.

Regular breakfast eaters say the findings make sense to them.

"It sets you up well for eating well and your meals the rest of the day so you're not crashing," Alison Puzio said.

Jewel McPherson agrees. "I never feel, like, famished, like I need to overdo anything because I already feel energized from the start," she said.

Of course, what you eat matters, too. Somers says people should generally stick to healthier foods in the morning, like protein and healthy carbs, and try to avoid sugar-filled foods.

Researchers say making breakfast a habit for young people could help them maintain a healthy weight as adults.

The study findings, which were presented at the Experimental Biology 2018 meeting in San Diego, should be considered preliminary as they have not yet been published.

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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