Research Supports the Importance of Eating Breakfast

Patient Expert

Skip breakfast this morning? Is that a habit you've developed? Research out of Harvard University suggests that you may want to start revamping this particular dietary choice in order to protect your heart health.

The study involved assessing the eating habits of 26,902 men between the ages of 45 and 82 who participated in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. All participants did not have cardiovascular disease or cancer at the start of the study. The researchers followed these participants (who were dentists, veterinarians, pharmacists, optometrists, osteopaths, and podiatrists) for a 16-year period by collecting biennial questionnaires that collected the participants' medical history, lifestyle and other health-related behaviors.

The researchers point out that the 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend breakfast for children; however, the guidelines do not include similar recommendations for adults. They add that data collected for the 2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey indicate that almost 20 percent of American adults skip breakfast daily.

However, previous research has determined that missing meals is linked to weight gain and being overweight, high blood pressure, insulin sensitive and diabetes.

The researchers found that 1,527 incidents of cardiovascular heart disease were diagnosed. Through further analysis, they found that men who skipped breakfast had a 27 percent higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease than men who ate breakfast regularly. Interestingly, there was no observed association between eating several times during the day and the risk of cardiovascular disease.

So why what's behind the importance of breakfast?

The researchers aren't totally sure, but they do have some guesses. For instance, they hypothesize that prolonging fasting by skipping breakfast can put a strain on the body, which can over the long run lead to insulin insensitivity. This, in turn, can lead to type 2 diabetes as well as high blood pressure, which then can domino into heart disease.

While the findings of this study are specific for men, women should also be more cognizant about the importance of breakfast.