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Skipping breakfast may increase heart risk

26th October 2010

New research has shown a possible link between skipping breakfast and heart disease risk factors.

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The Australian study looked at the link between skipping breakfast as a child and as an adult, and tried to identify risk factors linked to heart disease, such as waist circumference and levels of cholesterol in the blood.

Overall, it found that people who skipped breakfast as an adult had less healthy lifestyles than those who did not.

In addition, people who skipped breakfast during both childhood and adulthood had larger waist circumferences than those who ate breakfast at both ages.

Higher insulin and cholesterol levels were also detected in those who skipped breakfast both as children and as adults.

The team concluded that skipping breakfast over a long period may have detrimental effects on cardiometabolic health.

It said governments should consider promoting the advantages of eating breakfast as part of their public health campaigns.

Carried out by researchers from the University of Tasmania and other research centres in Australia, the study assessed whether skipping breakfast in childhood and adulthood was associated with markers of cardiovascular and metabolic risk.

The prospective cohort study was chosen because it suited the task of looking at the relationship between childhood breakfast habits and cardiometabolic risk.

But the breakfast habits of the adults, followed up from childhood, were assessed at the same time as their cardiovascular risk, and therefore the link between the two is still uncertain, experts say.

Funded by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, the Australian National Heart Foundation, the Tasmanian Community Fund, Veolia Environmental Services, Sanitarium, ASICS and Target, the study was published in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

It did not actually record instances of cardiovascular or metabolic disease in the participants.

So it is still unclear whether people who skip breakfast as a child are in fact at greater risk of conditions such as heart attacks or diabetes.

The team followed a sample of Australian children aged 9 to 15 years old in 1985, and revisited them between 2004 and 2006, when they were aged up to 36 years old.

At that time, their adult eating habits and cardiovascular markers were recorded.

Skipping breakfast in childhood and adulthood did appear to be associated with cardiometabolic risk factors, such as larger waist circumference, it found.

However, only one third of the original 6,559 children taking part in the study were eventually followed up, and the number of people who skipped breakfast as children and adults was too small to yield a firm conclusion.


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