Skipping breakfast may lead to diabetes and heart disease

By Joyeeta Basu contact

- Last updated on GMT

Researchers suggested eating eggs, lean meats or Greek yoghurt for breakfast
Researchers suggested eating eggs, lean meats or Greek yoghurt for breakfast

Related tags: Breakfast, Nutrition

Skipping breakfast may typically be associated with obesity but a recent study on young women suggested it could also lead to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The recently published research by the University of Missouri studied 35 overweight girls aged 13 to 20 and found that those who skipped breakfast regularly had poorer blood sugar response to a high protein breakfast than those who ate breakfast regularly.

Current scientific evidence shows that high blood sugar levels can be linked to increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.  Assistant professor Heather Leidy said identifying a good diet when young therefore might prevent the development of such disease.

"These findings may indicate an increased inability among habitual breakfast skippers to metabolise a large quantity of protein,”​ said Leidy. “Unfortunately, we don’t yet know how long someone who has been skipping breakfast needs to continue eating breakfast to experience benefits.”

Leidy added that their data suggested young women should routinely aim for a 350-calorie breakfast with approximately 30 grams of protein. She suggested eating scrambled eggs, breakfast burritos with eggs and lean meats, or Greek yoghurt.

Study details

The research studied the effect of breakfast type and frequency of consumption on sugar levels in overweight girls.

It compared the effect of a high-protein breakfast on those who habitually skipped breakfast to those who ate breakfast regularly. It found that their metabolic responses to high-protein breakfasts were different.

The habitual breakfast skippers ate a high-carbohydrate breakfast, a high-protein breakfast or continued to skip breakfast consecutively for three days. The habitual breakfast eaters had a high-carbohydrate breakfast or a high-protein breakfast consecutively for four days. On the fourth day of each pattern, the researchers measured the girls’ blood sugar levels throughout the day.

The researchers found their glucose responses to high-protein versus high-carbohydrate breakfasts were influenced by their breakfast habits. For breakfast skippers, eating a high-protein breakfast led to increased blood sugar levels compared to skipping breakfast, while the standard, high-carbohydrate breakfast did not influence these responses.

However, among those who routinely ate breakfast, the high-protein breakfasts led to reduced blood sugar levels throughout the day.

Breakfast is king

In summary, the data suggested that the addition of breakfast, regardless of its macronutrient content, had minimal effects on the daily blood sugar responses in people who habitually skipped it.

“Novel differences in the glycemic response to higher versus normal-protein breakfast meals were detected and appeared to be influenced by habitual breakfast consumption in overweight or obese adolescent girls,”​ it concluded.

Source: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Date: 25 February 2015; doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2015.12 

“The effect of breakfast type and frequency of consumption on glycemic response in overweight/obese late adolescent girls”

Authors: A.Y. Alwattar, et al.

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