The most important meal

11 November, 2010

The saying is true: breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.

A world first study conducted by Menzies Research Institute Tasmania has shown that skipping breakfast over a long period of time may increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

The new study was recently published online in the international journal American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Skipping breakfast is a fairly common practice with 23 per cent of adults and 10 per cent of children reporting they did not regularly eat breakfast in the 1995 National Nutrition Survey (Australia) and there is evidence that skipping breakfast is becoming more common.

First author and chief investigator of the paper, Menzies' PhD student Ms Kylie Smith says results from the new study show that not only is breakfast good for weight management, but it is also good for reducing other risk factors for heart disease and diabetes such as blood insulin and cholesterol levels, independently of weight.

"People who reported skipping breakfast both during childhood and adulthood had more risk factors for diabetes and heart disease than their peers who ate breakfast at both times in the study," Smith said.

The investigation was part of the national Childhood Determinants of Adult Health (CDAH) study. Over 2,000 participants were involved with the breakfast skipping study.

"We used data from a large nation-wide study with a 20 year follow-up from childhood to early adulthood."

"Compared to those who ate breakfast both as a child and an adult, those who skipped breakfast on both occasions had a larger waist circumference, and had higher fasting insulin, total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol), which are all risk factors for heart disease and diabetes," Smith said.

Senior author, Menzies' Deputy Director, Professor Alison Venn said overall the findings support that people should aim to have a healthy, balanced diet, and eating a healthy breakfast is part of this.

"Promoting the benefits of eating breakfast could be a simple and important public health message," Prof Venn said.

Prof Venn said parents should set a good example for their children by eating a healthy breakfast every day.

The study included authors from Menzies Research Institute Tasmania, Deakin University and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.

Source: University of Tasmania