Skipping breakfast associated with hardening of the arteries

October 2, 2017, American College of Cardiology
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Skipping breakfast is associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis, or the hardening and narrowing of arteries due to a build-up of plaque, according to research published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Eating a healthy has been shown to promote greater heart health, including healthier weight and cholesterol. While previous studies have linked skipping breakfast to coronary , this is the first study to evaluate the association between breakfast and the presence of .

"People who regularly skip breakfast likely have an overall unhealthy lifestyle," said study author Valentin Fuster, MD, PhD, MACC director of Mount Sinai Heart and editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. "This study provides evidence that this is one bad habit people can proactively change to reduce their risk for heart disease."

Researchers in Madrid examined male and female volunteers who were free from cardiovascular or chronic kidney disease. A computerized questionnaire was used to estimate the usual diet of the participants, and breakfast patterns were based on the percentage of total daily energy intake consumed at breakfast. Three groups were identified - those consuming less than five percent of their total energy intake in the morning (skipped breakfast and only had coffee, juice or other non-alcoholic beverages); those consuming more than 20 percent of their total energy intake in the morning (breakfast consumers); and those consuming between five and 20 percent (low-energy breakfast consumers). Of the 4,052 participants, 2.9 percent skipped breakfast, 69.4 percent were low-energy breakfast consumers and 27.7 percent were breakfast consumers.

Atherosclerosis was observed more frequency among participants who skipped breakfast and was also higher in participants who consumed low-energy breakfasts compared to breakfast consumers. Additionally, cardiometabolic risk markers were more prevalent in those who skipped breakfast and low-energy breakfast consumers compared to breakfast consumers. Participants who skipped breakfast had the greatest waist circumference, body mass index, blood pressure, blood lipids and fasting glucose levels.

Participants who skipped breakfast were more likely to have an overall unhealthy lifestyle, including poor overall diet, frequent alcohol consumption and smoking. They were also more likely to be hypertensive and overweight or obese. In the case of obesity, the study authors said reverse causation cannot be ruled out, and the observed results may be explained by obese patients skipping breakfast to lose weight.

"Aside from the direct association with cardiovascular risk factors, skipping breakfast might serve as a marker for a general unhealthy diet or lifestyle which in turn is associated with the development and progression of atherosclerosis," said Jose L. Peñalvo, PhD, assistant professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and the senior author of the study. "Our findings are important for health professionals and might be used as a simple message for lifestyle-based interventions and public health strategies, as well as informing dietary recommendations and guidelines."

Prakash Deedwania, MD, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and author of the accompanying editorial comment said that this study provides clinically important information by demonstrating the evidence of subclinical atherosclerosis in people who skip breakfast.

"Between 20 and 30 percent of adults skip breakfast and these trends mirror the increasing prevalence of obesity and associated cardiometabolic abnormalities," Deedwania said. "Poor dietary choices are generally made relatively early in life and, if remained unchanged, can lead to clinical cardiovascular disease later on. Adverse effects of skipping breakfast can be seen early in childhood in the form of childhood obesity and although breakfast skippers are generally attempting to lose weight, they often end up eating more and unhealthy foods later in the day. Skipping breakfast can cause hormonal imbalances and alter circadian rhythms. That breakfast is the most important meal of the day has been proven right in light of this evidence."

Explore further: Children who skip breakfast may not be getting recommended nutrients

More information: Journal of the American College of Cardiology (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.jacc.2017.08.027

Related Stories

Children who skip breakfast may not be getting recommended nutrients

August 16, 2017
A study by researchers at King's College London has found that children who skip breakfast regularly may not be consuming the daily amounts of key nutrients for growth and development that are recommended by the UK government.

Skipping breakfast may be healthy way to shed weight

July 22, 2013
If you skip breakfast, don't worry about overeating at lunch or the rest of the day, report Cornell nutritional scientists July 2 in the journal Physiology and Behavior. In fact, nixing breakfast a few times a week may be ...

Five great diet breakfasts

May 8, 2017
(HealthDay)—When it comes to losing weight, Simon says, "Eat breakfast."

Video: What is a 'complete breakfast'?

August 31, 2015
It's the most important meal of the day. Or is it? Breakfast has been the topic of much debate.

School breakfasts contribute to healthy weight, study finds

March 17, 2016
Middle school students who eat breakfast at school—even if they have already had breakfast at home—are less likely to be overweight or obese than students who skip breakfast, says a new study by the Community Alliance ...

Recommended for you

Study reveals a promising alternative to corticosteroids in acute renal failure treatment

September 21, 2018
A protein produced by the human body appears to be a promising new drug candidate to treat conditions that lead to acute renal failure. This is shown by a study conducted at São Paulo State University (UNESP) in São José ...

Can a common heart condition cause sudden death?

September 20, 2018
About one person out of 500 has a heart condition known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). This condition causes thickening of the heart muscle and results in defects in the heart's electrical system. Under conditions ...

New drugs could reduce risk of heart disease when added to statins

September 20, 2018
New drugs that lower levels of triglycerides (a type of fat) in blood could further reduce the risk of heart attack when added to statins. These new drugs, which are in various stages of development, could also reduce blood ...

Mediterranean-style diet may lower women's stroke risk

September 20, 2018
Following a Mediterranean-style diet may reduce stroke risk in women over 40 but not in men—according to new research led by the University of East Anglia.

Inflammation critical for preventing heart attacks and strokes, study reveals

September 19, 2018
Inflammation, long considered a dangerous contributor to atherosclerosis, actually plays an important role in preventing heart attacks and strokes, new research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine reveals.

People who walk just 35 minutes a day may have less severe strokes

September 19, 2018
People who participate in light to moderate physical activity, such as walking at least four hours a week or swimming two to three hours a week, may have less severe strokes than people who are physically inactive, according ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Plutonic
5 / 5 (1) Oct 02, 2017
Does any research on the effects of skipping breakfast actually distinguish between not eating a breakfast meal at all, and eating a healthy breakfast late in the morning (say 10 to 11 AM) for the purpose of maintaining a 16-hour daily fast regime, which is supposed to be good for you? In other words, what is causing the harm here - not eating during a specific part of the day, or missing out on the nutrients present in a healthy breakfast? I would love to know. If it's the latter, then the problem is easily fixed by eating a breakfast meal later in the day. If it's the former, does that mean fasting is not beneficial?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.