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17-10-2010 | Cardiometabolic | Article

Skipping breakfast associated with cardiometabolic risk factors


Free abstract

MedWire News: Skipping breakfast over a long period of time may be detrimental to cardiometabolic health, an Australian study suggests.

The researchers show that skipping breakfast in both childhood and adulthood is associated with a larger waist circumference, increased cardiometabolic risk factors, poorer diet quality, and unhealthy lifestyle behaviors, compared with eating breakfast at both time points.

Kylie Smith and team, from the Menzies Research Institute in Hobart, Australia, carried out an observational study over a 20-year period to test the association between breakfast skipping and cardiometabolic risk factors. They also investigated whether any associations could be explained by differences in diet quality and waist circumference.

The study used sample data from a 1985 national survey of Australian children, aged 9-15 years, who had reported whether they usually ate breakfast before school. A follow-up survey of 2184 young adults, including one-third of children from the initial survey, was carried out in 2004-2006, when the participants were aged 26-36 years.

For the follow-up survey, the participants completed a meal-frequency chart for the previous day and were allocated to one of four groups: skipped breakfast in neither childhood nor adulthood (n=1359), skipped breakfast only in childhood (n=224), skipped breakfast only in adulthood (n=515), or skipped breakfast in both childhood and adulthood (n=86).

Breakfast was defined as eating a snack, small meal, or large meal between 0600 and 0900.

After adjusting for age, gender, and sociodemographic and lifestyle factors, the team observed that participants who skipped breakfast in both childhood and adulthood had, on average, higher fasting insulin (by 2.02 mU/l), total cholesterol (by 0.4 mmol/l, 15.5 mg/dl), and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (by 0.4 mmol/l, 15.5 mg/dl) levels than those who ate breakfast at both time points. They also had a larger mean waist circumference (4.63 cm) and a less healthy diet.

The researchers state in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that "participants who skipped breakfast at both time points were the only group to have had a significantly larger waist circumference and higher cardiometabolic risk factors than those who ate breakfast at both time points."

They note that the association between skipping breakfast and cardiometabolic risk factors was not explained by sociodemographic factors, physical activity, or diet quality.

Adjustment for waist circumference did reduce the association between skipping breakfast and cardiometabolic risk factors, suggesting it might be an important mediator of the association, but skipping breakfast still had an independent effect on cardiometabolic risk factors.

The researchers conclude that, given their findings, "promoting the benefits of eating breakfast could be a simple and important public health message."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Nikki Withers