Skipping breakfast tied to higher risk of hardening in arteries

October 6, 2017 in Heart Health, Nutrition Topics in the News

Skipping breakfast tied to higher risk of hardening in arteries

People who skip breakfast may be more likely to develop atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, than individuals who start each day with a hearty morning meal, a new study suggests. 

Even after researchers accounted for diet and other risk factors for heart disease, people who regularly skipped breakfast were significantly more likely to develop atherosclerosis compared to their peers who normally had a morning meal. 

The researchers stated that a greater proportion of calories consumed earlier in the day may improve cardiovascular health. Previous research has linked skipping breakfast to a higher risk of problems that can lead to heart disease such as obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol.

About the study

For the study, researchers examined data from dietary questionnaires completed by 4,052 adults who didn’t have a history of heart problems. 

Overall, just 3 percent of the participants reported skipping breakfast, while 69 percent typically consumed a light morning meal (accounting for 5 percent to 20 percent of total calories for the day) and 28 percent had a hearty breakfast (accounting for more than 20 percent of the day’s caloric intake). 

Those who skipped breakfast were more likely to be male, smokers and dieters who consumed the bulk of their daily calories around lunchtime. 

When they ate, breakfast skippers tended to spend no more than 5 minutes on their morning meal and consume mostly coffee or orange juice. 

Light vs. heart hearty breakfast eaters more likely to have artery damage

Compared to people who had a hearty breakfast, individuals who had a light breakfast were still 21 percent more likely to have damage in a major artery in the neck and 17 percent more likely to have damage in a major blood vessel in the abdominal area. 

In addition to having the greatest risk of atherosclerosis, people who skipped breakfast also had the greatest waist circumference, body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar 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 overweight or obese.

Study limitations

The study wasn’t a randomized controlled trial designed to prove that skipping breakfast causes heart problems or hardening of the arteries. 

Another limitation – some people may have been skipping breakfast because they were obese and were trying to lose weight or improve other risk factors for heart disease that could also contribute to atherosclerosis.

Individuals who regularly eat breakfast also tend to have a healthier lifestyle, exercising more, eating better and smoking less than people who skip their morning meal.

The important thing is not to wait too long to eat, because people may then resort to unhealthy snacks or whatever they can grab on the go to give them a boost until it’s time to eat lunch, she said. 

Source: Journal of the American College of Cardiology, online October 2, 2017.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.