How Skipping Breakfast Can Harm Your Heart
People who regularly skip breakfast are at increased risk for heart problems, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Results of the study suggest middle-aged adults who do not eat breakfast have twice the risk of developing atherosclerosis – hardening and narrowing of the arteries – as those who eat a healthy morning meal.
The study, conducted in Spain, involved about 4,000 adults between the ages of 40 and 54 with no prior history of heart disease. Study participants provided information about their usual daily eating habits and researchers used this information to identify three breakfast-eating patterns: those who skip breakfast or get less than 5 percent of their day's total calories at this meal; those who typically eat a “low-energy” breakfast – coffee, juice, fruit, toast, pastry, for example – comprising 5 to 20 percent of their day’s total calories; and those who eat a "high-energy” breakfast – consisting of toast, fruit, lean protein, cereal, or pastries – comprising more than 20 percent of their day’s total calories.
According to researchers, study participants in the first group had 1.5 times more arterial plaque, were more likely to be overweight or obese, and had a worse diet overall than the high-energy breakfast eaters. Although skipping breakfast is commonly associated with other unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking and high alcohol consumption, results of the study held true even after researchers adjusted for these additional factors.