Many dieters find that they struggle to maintain a healthy weight after shedding the desired number of pounds.
As Dr Daniela Jakubowicz, a senior physician at Tel Aviv University's Wolfson Medical Centre in Israel, pointed out: "The goal of a weight loss diet should be not only weight reduction but also reduction of hunger and cravings, thus helping prevent weight regain."
Dr Jakubowicz and colleagues recruited just under 200 obese adults in order to compare the effectiveness of two different low-calorie diet plans.
Both diets provided around 1,600 calories a day for men and 1,400 a day for women.
However, they differed in the composition of breakfast, with the first diet featuring a 304-calorie breakfast with just 10g of carbohydrates, and the second featuring a 600-calorie breakfast with 60g of carbs (including a sweet treat such as chocolate, a doughnut or a slice of cake).
After four months had passed, the average weight loss was similar for both groups at around 33lb (15.1kg) per person.
Presenting the findings at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society, Dr Jakubowicz explained that this meant both diets worked the same in terms of initial weight loss.
However, differences became apparent during the second four months of the study. While people in the first diet group typically regained around 22lb (11.6kg) in weight, those who had a dessert for breakfast continued to lose around 15lb (6.9kg) each.
Dessert eaters also reported feeling less hunger and fewer food cravings throughout the day - something that is a common problem among people who have lost weight.
Dr Jakubowicz believes the diet's beneficial effect on fullness or 'satiety' may be due to its combination of protein and carbs, while the enjoyment of a small dessert first thing in the morning may help to prevent cravings throughout the day.