A new study has appeared to shed doubt on the importance of eating breakfast.

It has long been regarded as the most important meal of the day, providing people with sustenance and energy for the activities that lay ahead and to ensure a healthy weight.

However researchers in Australia have found that eating breakfast does not appear to help people lose weight and should not necessarily be recommended as a weight-loss strategy.

They also found that it does not prevent the onset of hunger, as once thought.

Previous studies have suggested that eating breakfast speeds up the metabolism and can help people to stop overeating later in the day.

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Monash University in Melbourne reviewed 13 studies from the last 28 years in high income countries around the world, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan, examining weight and energy intake from breakfast consumption.

The results, published in the British Medical Journal, revealed just a very small difference in weight loss between those who ate breakfast and those who did not.

The research found that people who skipped breakfast were on average 0.44kg lighter.

While those who opted to eat breakfast, ate an average of around 260 more calories per day.

As a result, the researchers say caution is needed when recommending the eating of breakfast for weight loss in adults as it could have the opposite effect.

Nutritionist Sarah Keogh, from Eatwell, said: "We know from studies on breakfast that it is one of the places that people pick up things like fibre."

She said that around 80% of people in Ireland don’t eat enough fibre and she said she would have "a huge concern if people suddenly cut it out".

The researchers in Australia also found that eating breakfast could still have some important effects such as improved concentration and attentiveness levels in children.

Experts say that people who enjoy breakfast should not stop eating first thing in the morning, but rather they should take a look at what they are consuming to ensure a balanced diet.