A link between skipping breakfast and poor cardiovascular health has now been researched and proven.
A recent study1 consisted of 4,052 middle-aged female and male participants with no previous history of cardiovascular disease. The study researchers also collected information on the cholesterol levels, physical activity, body mass index, and smoking status of all study participants. All participants were told to take note of what they had eaten along with the specific times they had eaten these items.
Imaging techniques were used to study the buildup of fatty material in the arteries around the heart and neck. Compared to those participants who consumed more than 20% of their daily calories at breakfast time, the participants who had tiny breakfasts or who skipped breakfast altogether, were found to have a greater extent of artery buildup which means their risk of heart attacks and strokes is increased.
Sub-clinical atherosclerosis (the buildup of fat) was found in 75% of those who skip breakfast Even when high blood pressure, smoking or other factors were taken into account, the link between skipping breakfast and poor cardiovascular health was evident throughout the study results.
What was interesting aside from JUST skipping breakfast, the participants who were breakfast skippers were also more likely to lead a lifestyle that was unhealthy overall. These breakfast skippers also maintained a poor diet, were usually smokers, and found to drink alcohol frequently. “Perhaps skipping breakfast is not what is to blame for heart disease. It seems to be a poor lifestyle that is causing the heart disease; and simultaneously also making people MORE likely to skip out on breakfast.”
In conclusion, healthier people are more likely to actually eat breakfast.
What the researchers in this study found is that people who skipped breakfast were likely doing so in an unhealthy way in order to lose weight. This would explain why the rate of obesity was higher in those who skipped breakfast. Apparently, the breakfast skipping caused an odd consumption of calories at strange times during the day and disrupted a good “pattern of eating.”
The study participants will be followed for 10 more years in order to determine how arterial disease progresses, with the hope that we could glean a better idea of this link between poor cardiovascular health and skipping the first meal of the day.
The question is really not only about whether you are a breakfast eater or breakfast skipper. It is really about how that choice begins your path to other choices for healthy options during the rest of your 24 hours!
If you are trying to be healthy or to actually lose weight, you should keep an eye on your consumption but be diligent as to what food you are eating throughout your day; instead of trying to get rid of a meal (or calories) in the beginning of the day. It’s never a good idea for us to skip our meals, so do yourself a favor and eat at regular times. Listen to your mom!
Do you have patients that skip meals? Do YOU skip meals as a busy practitioner?
If you are interested in CME education on cardiovascular health and how to get YOUR patients some more help with their nutrition and lifestyles, visit us at CMHC West in May!