Certain things in life are necessities while some may just be by choice. Just like drinking water or taking fluid is a basic requirement to staying healthy, taking your breakfast is equally a behaviour that must be made a habit for the sake of it. According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, going without having breakfast increases your risk of developing a form of coronary artery disease called atherosclerosis.
And so you may not be able to prove anything to anyone by skipping breakfast because it is never a good way of proving your staying power; the health dangers experts say, are not exactly enviable. Instead you may be courting atherosclerosis, a stage of arteriosclerosis involving fatty deposits (atheromas) inside the arterial walls or accumulation of plaque, thus narrowing and hardening the arteries.
When you consume a wholesome breakfast you boost the health of your heart, your weight is put under control and your cholesterol level is normal. In the past similar studies have proven that skipping breakfast can put you at risk of coronary heart disease, and researchers say this is the very first time a study is revealing the level of connection between breakfast and the presence of subclinical atherosclerosis.
In the words of study author – Valentin Fuster, MD, PhD, MACC director of Mount Sinai Heart, who is also the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, “People who regularly skip breakfast likely have an overall unhealthy lifestyle,” He added that: “This study provides evidence that this is one bad habit people can proactively change to reduce their risk for heart disease.”
In this study scientists employed the use of a computerised questionnaire; they looked at male and female volunteers who did not have cardiovascular or chronic kidney disease. They examined their dietary behaviours and tried to approximately calculate this behaviour – looking at their breakfast patterns while basing them on the percentage of total daily energy intake consumed during breakfast.
Three groups were recognised, among them were those who usually eat below five percent of their total energy intake in the morning – they usually do not take breakfast or at best would only take coffee, juice or other non-alcoholic beverages. Also were those who normally consume more than 20 percent of their total energy intake during the morning period i.e. they take their breakfast normally; and then the third category, who consume between five and 20 percent – the low-energy breakfast eaters. The study showed that out of the 4,052 people that partook in the exercise, 2.9 percent went without breakfast, 69.4 percent were low-energy breakfast eaters, while 27.7 percent were serious breakfast eaters.
Atherosclerosis was observed more frequently in the lives of those who went without eating breakfast; it was also observed more in participants who ate low-energy breakfasts when compared to normal breakfast eaters. Furthermore, cardiometabolic risk markers were more widespread in those who skipped breakfast and low-energy breakfast eaters compared to breakfast consumers. Volunteers who skipped breakfast exhibited the greatest heaviness around the waist, general body weight, blood pressure, blood fat as well as fasting glucose levels.
Researchers observed therefore that participants who did not take breakfast were more prone to having a generally unhealthy lifestyle, including poor overall diet, regular alcohol intake and smoking. These people were more susceptible to hypertension and being overweight. Considering obesity, the researchers observed that reverse causation is definitely at play, and the observed results could be due to overweight people denying themselves breakfast in order 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.”
Author of the accompanying editorial comment as well as professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, Prakash Deedwania, MD, stated that the research makes available clinically important information by the show of evidence of subclinical atherosclerosis in people who miss out on their 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.”