MONDAY, Jan. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Conventional wisdom says that eating a big breakfast might keep you full throughout the day and help prevent overeating at other meals, but a new German study debunks the idea.

Dr. Volker Schusdziarra, a researcher with the Else-Kroner-Fresenius Center of Nutritional Medicine in Munich, surveyed 380 people about their daily diets. Participants included 280 people who were obese and 100 who were of normal weight. Everyone kept track of what they ate over a period of 10 to 14 days.

The investigators found that breakfast habits varied. People sometimes skipping breakfast altogether and other times consuming either a big or small meal, according to the study, published online Jan. 17 in the Nutrition Journal.

However, those who ate a "big" breakfast -- defined as being an average of 400 calories greater than a small breakfast -- ended up with a net gain of 400 calories over the day.

"The results of the study showed that people ate the same at lunch and dinner, regardless of what they had for breakfast," Schusdziarra said in a news release from BioMed Central, the journal's publisher.

Some people skipped a mid-morning snack when they ate a big breakfast, but that didn't offset the extra calories they took in earlier, the study noted.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more on healthy eating plans.