Eating Breakfast May Stave Off Obesity, Diabetes
By Keith Mulvihill
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – The next time you’re starting the day on an empty stomach, consider this: a new study suggests that people who eat breakfast daily may be less likely to succumb to obesity and diabetes.
The study was presented Thursday at the American Heart Association (news – web sites)’s 43rd Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention.
“In comparison to those who reported eating breakfast twice per week or less often, those reporting eating breakfast every day had 35 percent to 50 percent lower rates of developing obesity and insulin resistance syndrome,” researcher Dr. Mark A. Pereira told Reuters Health.
Insulin resistance is a loss of sensitivity to insulin, the key blood-sugar-regulating hormone. This loss of sensitivity is often a precursor to diabetes.
“This was true for white men and women, and black men, but not black women,” he added.
Breakfast may reduce the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease by controlling appetite and thus reducing the likelihood of overeating later in the day, explained the investigator.
“There were 2,681 young adults included in the study, and they were followed for eight years,” said Pereira, who is a research associate at Children’s Hospital and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School (news – web sites) in Boston. The participants, who were between 25 and 37 years old, were followed for a variety of health outcomes including insulin resistance and obesity.
“In addition to breakfast frequency, the quality of breakfast also appears to be important,” noted Pereira. “For example, whole grain breakfast cereals were associated with a reduction in risk, whereas refined grain breakfast cereals were not.”
Only cereals that list a whole grain or bran first in the ingredient list or those that contain a whole grain and have at least 2 grams of fiber per serving are considered to be whole grain cereal, according to a statement from the American Heart Association.
“The study contributes to the knowledge of the role of dietary patterns and risk of obesity and related health outcomes,” concluded Pereira, who added that “there are very few, if any, longitudinal studies on breakfast frequency, breakfast quality, and health outcomes.”
The study was funded by the Charles H. Hood Foundation, which Pereira said was “a philanthropic organization with no ties to industry.” The study was also funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health (news – web sites).