Risk of skipping breakfast

Skipping breakfast is linked to risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and obesity

A recent Australian study has found people who regularly eat breakfast are less likely to develop heart disease, diabetes or become obese, than people who start the day on an empty stomach.

A twenty year follow up national study of Australian school children, found that that those who skip breakfast in both childhood and adulthood have a significantly larger waist circumference, BMI (indicator of healthy weight), higher fasting insulin, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol compared to those who eat breakfast.

The study suggests that skipping breakfast over a long period may alter metabolism which may result in a greater storage of fat. The higher waist circumference in adults who miss breakfast in childhood and adulthood, may be as a result of higher energy intakes over the course of the day during the 20 year follow up, a factor that has been highlighted by other researchers.

Researchers believe that not eating breakfast seems to be more common, possibly because of efforts to lose weight or due to lack of time. Children and adults who skip breakfast are less likely to meet dietary recommendations for breads and cereals, fruit and dairy, and are more likely to eat takeaway food more than once per week.

Regardless of age, race, socioeconomic status and other lifestyle factors research shows that not only is eating breakfast important but the type of breakfast eaten may play a role in BMI. Eating cereal (cooked or ready to eat cereal) or certain breads for breakfast, is associated with a significantly lower BMI in adults compared to those who skip breakfast or eat other types of breakfast.

Those who eat breakfast that consists of grains (cereals and breads) may have similar energy intakes to other food types, however have lower BMIs, than those who do not eat breakfast or eat meat and eggs for breakfast. Cereals and bread not only provide energy, protein, vitamins and minerals, but some contain insoluble fibre which contributes to a longer lasting feeling of fullness, making them a suitable option for breakfast.


Smith KJ et al. Am J Clin Nutr 2010. Doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2010.30101. Skipping breakfast: longitudinal associations with cardiometabolic risk factors in the Childhood Determinants of Adult Health Study.

Farshchi HR et al. Am J Clin Nutr 2005;81:388-96. Deleterious effects of omitting breakfast on insulin sensitivity and fasting lipid profiles in healthy lean women.

Sungsoo C et al. JACN 2003;22(4):296-302. The Effect of Breakfast Type on Total Daily Energy Intake and Body Mass Index: Results from the Third National Health Examination Survey (NHANES III).

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