If you think skipping your morning tea and toast will help you shed a few pounds, you could be mistaken.

Researchers claim people who miss breakfast not only eat more for lunch but also crave fatty and sugary foods, putting them at risk of gaining rather than losing weight.

Scientists at Imperial College London scanned the brains of 21 volunteers while they looked at pictures of different foods, such as salads and chocolate.

They also had to rate the foods' appeal. The volunteers were then given an all-you-can-eat pasta lunch. Those who had missed breakfast ate around 250 calories more - the equivalent of a chocolate bar.


They also found high-calorie foods more tempting, the Society for Neuroscience's conference heard.

The researchers said this showed the volunteers would have picked out unhealthy foods if they hadn't been given the pasta meal, packing away even more calories.

The MRI scans showed the region of the brain which tells us how important a certain food is, called the orbital frontal cortex, became more active when the volunteer had skipped breakfast. It became particularly active when a volunteer was thinking about calorific food.

It is thought that when we skip meals, our gut releases hormones that act on the orbital frontal cortex, which tricks us into thinking we need sugary and fatty treats.

Researcher Dr Tony Goldstone said: 'Beware of going for long periods without eating because you are going to crave high-calorie foods much more because of changes in your orbital frontal cortex.'

- Daily Mail