Harvard Scientists Indicate That Breakfast Skipping Has Adverse Health Consequences

Harvard Scientists Indicate That Breakfast Skipping Has Adverse Health Consequences

If you leave each morning without so much as a glance at breakfast, a new study provides another reason to slow down and take time out of your busy day to eat a healthy breakfast and help your heart.

This paper looked at men – some 27,000 of them over 16 years. So whilst women also skip breakfast, this is a good study for husbands, dads and other males in your lives.

They published in the journal Circulation, and the researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health explain that men who missed breakfast had a 27% higher risk of coronary heart disease, compared to those who followed sage advice about eating like a king for the first meal of the day.

  • Cahill LE, Chiuve SE, Mekary RA, Jensen MK, Flint AJ, Hu FB, Rimm EB. Prospective Study of Breakfast Eating and Incident Coronary Heart Disease in a Cohort of Male US Health Professionals. Circulation. 2013 Jul 23;128(4):337-43. View Abstract

The researchers also noted that men who skipped breakfast also ate one less meal each day, so they were not catching up with a double lunch!

Coronary heart disease, is the leading cause of death in the U.K and most other western countries and occurs when the blood vessels to the heart become narrower, diminishing oxygen flow.

Those men who snacked late at night were 55% more likely to develop coronary heart disease. But numbers in the study were small so it is not so easy to state this applies to all late night snackers.

Because the study only monitored men over time—rather than asking them to eat or skip breakfast and see what happened—the researchers can’t say for certain that skipping breakfast is responsible for the increased risk of heart disease; it only shows a correlation between the two. This habit for example may be an indicator for other more risky behaviour not followed in this paper.

In fact once the researchers took into account some of those risk factors—high body mass index, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes mellitus—men who skipped breakfast were only 18% more likely to have coronary heart disease.

One possibility is the overall poor health habits of breakfast skippers, who tended to share certain characteristics—they were younger, more likely to smoke, employed full-time, unmarried, and less physically active and drank more alcohol.

More research is needed to determine what role breakfast plays in keeping the heart healthy. In the meantime, the researchers stand behind the old advice - “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dine like a pauper”.