People who skip breakfast may be more likely to develop atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, than individuals who start each day with a hearty meal, a new study suggests.
Even after researchers accounted for diet and other risk factors for heart disease, people who routinely skipped breakfast were significantly more likely to develop atherosclerosis compared to those who normally had a morning meal, the study found. “A greater percentage of energy consumed earlier in the day may favor cardiovascular health,“ lead study author Dr. Valentín Fuster of the CNIC, Madrid, and Mount Sinai Heart, New York City, said.
Previous research has linked skipping breakfast to a higher risk of problems that can lead to heart diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and high cholesterol, researchers noted in the `Journal of the American College of Cardiology’.
For the current study, researchers examined data from dietary questionnaires completed by 4,052 adults who didn’t have a history of heart problems.
Overall, just 3% of the participants reported skipping breakfast, while 69% typically consumed a light morning meal (accounting for 5-20% of total calories for the day) and 28% had a hearty breakfast (accounting for more than 20% of the day’s intake).
Those who skipped breaking fast were more likely to be male, smokers, and dieters who consumed the bulk of their daily calories around lunchtime. When they ate, breakfast skippers tended to spend no more than five minutes on their morning meal and consume mostly coffee or orange juice.
Compared to people who had a hearty breakfast, individuals who had a light breakfast were still 21% more likely to have damage in a major artery in the neck and 17% more likely to have damage to a major blood vessel in the abdominal area.
In addition to having the greatest risk of atherosclerosis, people who skipped breakfast also had the greatest waist circumference, body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove that skipping breakfast directly causes heart problems or hardening of the arteries. Another limitation of the study is that some people may have been skipping breakfast because they were obese and trying to lose weight or improve other risk factors for heart disease.
Many overweight people who might be skipping breakfast or other meals in the hope of losing weight should keep in mind that studies have repeatedly shown that contrary to the commonly held belief, such habits can be associated with (weight gain) and might lead to significant metabolic abnormalities including the increased risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes.