Skipping Breakfast


Part of living and eating better is about taking the time to plan and prepare--as Reader's Digest or Chicken Soup for The Soul might advise: 

"No one ever plans on failing, they just fail to plan.

Breakfast is arguably the most 'rushed' meal of the day--provided it is eaten at all--approximately 20-30% of US adults do not eat breakfast. But, whether you are a student hoping to learn something in class or an adult heading out to work...breakfast has merit. A good breakfast that is.

In a recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers explored "the association between different breakfast patterns and CVD (heart disease) risk factors." And, in particular, the impact of regularly skipping breakfast "on sub-clinical atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in your arteries)." 

Those defaulting to orange juice or coffee for breakfast showed the highest prevalence of heart risk factors:

  • increased waist circumference
  • increased body mass index
  • higher blood pressure
  • higher cholesterol
  • higher fasting glucose levels.

Additionally, evidence of smoldering plaque formation in the major arteries was more frequently observed in those skipping breakfast. Of those risk factors, obesity alone is a major source of heart-related inflammation processes and is "directly related to systemic inflammation and atherosclerosis." Taking these risk factors into account and adjusting for their contribution, the estimated risk declined, but still remained significant for skipping breakfast nonetheless. 

The overall dietary patterns of those skipping breakfast in this study were unhealthy as well:

  • low in fruits and vegetables
  • frequently dining out
  • high in processed and red meats
  • high in appetizers
  • high in sugar-sweetened beverages and alcohol

Obviously, these habits are not helping the situation and the association between skipping breakfast and heart related health markers is, thus, not surprising:

  • high fasting sugars
  • higher diabetic markers
  • increased risk of being diagnosed with diabetes
  • higher blood pressures

More studies are certainly needed in this area to tease out the exact relationship and specifics; however, increasing evidence, along with other studies published, seem to indicate that skipping breakfast is related to a higher risk of heart disease and stroke; and as such, is being considered as a potential marker for unhealthy dietary and lifestyle behavior.

I have several breakfast options for days that I am home and days that I might be on running out the door. Some are quick fixes like whole-grain cracker-bread with crunchy peanut butter and fruit while others require stocking the fridge, pantry and freezer with ready-to-go foods.

Eating a healthy breakfast.

20-30% of total daily calories.

Potentially massive impact on heart, stroke and diabetes risk.

Small is big.

Fuster, Valentin, MD, PhD et al. The Importance of Breakfast in Atherosclerosis Disease. Insights from the PESA Study. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Vol 70. No. 15, 2017: pg 1834-1842.

St-Onge et al. Meal Timing and Frequency: Implications for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention. A Scientific Statement From The American Heart Association. February 28, 2017. Circulation. 2017; 135: e96-e121.