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Two New Studies Echo Your Mother’s Advice: “Eat Breakfast!”

by Sandy Todd Webster on Sep 19, 2013

Food for Thought

Research published in the journals Obesity [July 2 online] and Circulation [2013; 128, 337-43] should give breakfast naysayers new facts to nosh on the next time they are running out of the door unfueled for the day.

Researchers at Tel Aviv University discovered that eating a high-calorie breakfast and reducing intake at dinner is beneficial and might be a useful alternative for managing obesity and metabolic syndrome.

Overweight and obese women (BMI 32.4 ± 1.8 kg/m2) with metabolic syndrome were randomized into two ∼1,400-kilocalories-per-day weight loss groups for 12 weeks. Half ate 700 kcal at breakfast, 500 kcal at lunch and 200 kcal at dinner. The second group flipped the breakfast and dinner calories (200 kcal breakfast, 500 kcal lunch, 700 kcal dinner).

Those who consumed more for breakfast showed greater weight loss (~19 pounds vs. ~8 pounds) and waist circumference reduction (about 3.3 inches vs. 1.5 inches) than those who ate a big dinner, reported the authors.

“Although fasting glucose, insulin, and ghrelin (an appetite hormone) were reduced in both groups, fasting glucose, insulin, and HOMA-IR decreased significantly to a greater extent in the [breakfast] group,” said the researchers in their abstract. “Mean triglyceride levels decreased by 33.6% in the [breakfast] group, but increased by 14.6% in the [dinner] group.”

In another experiment, a large 16-year study (involving 26,902 male health professionals aged 45-82) found that men who reported skipping breakfast had a higher risk of heart attack or death from coronary heart disease than those who ate in the morning. Researchers discovered that the timing of meals, whether it was missing breakfast or eating a meal very late at night, may cause adverse metabolic effects that could lead to coronary heart disease. Even after accounting for modest differences in diet, physical activity, smoking and other lifestyle factors, the association between skipping breakfast (or eating very late at night) and coronary heart disease persisted.

“Skipping breakfast may lead to one or more risk factors, including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, which may in turn lead to a heart attack over time,” said Leah E. Cahill, PhD, lead study author and postdoctoral research fellow in the department of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

“Don’t skip breakfast,” Cahill said. “Eating breakfast is associated with a decreased risk of heart attacks. Incorporating many types of healthy foods into your breakfast is an easy way to ensure your meal provides adequate energy and a healthy balance of nutrients, such as protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. For example, adding nuts and chopped fruit to a bowl of whole-grain cereal or steel-cut oatmeal in the morning is a great way to start the day.”

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About the Author

Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster IDEA Author/Presenter

Sandy Todd Webster is Editor in Chief of IDEA's publications, including the award-winning IDEA FITNESS JOURNAL and IDEA FOOD & NUTRITION TIPS, the industry's leading resources for fitness, wellness and nutrition professionals worldwide. Sandy joined IDEA in 2001 as executive editor of IDEA PERSONAL TRAINER and IDEA FITNESS MANAGER magazines and was promoted to lead the editorial team in 2003. More than 20 years in magazine publishing, marketing communications and creative services have shaped her straightforward approach to multi-channel communication. Early experience in Los Angeles as a sports writer/reporter, and then enriching years as a managing editor in allied health care publishing have pulled her across a spectrum of stimulating subject matter. Fitness, health and nutrition reside at the perfect center of this content continuum, she feels. A Chicago native, Sandy grew up fully engaged in various competitive sports. Her drive and dedication as an athlete translate to a disciplined work ethic and unwavering approach to challenge in her career. Shortly after graduating journalism school from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, she was recruited to L.A. for her first post in magazine publishing. After two decades of working on magazines--and now in the throes of applying the unbelieveable multi-media content delivery options available in the magazine 2.0 world--she is still "completely in love" with the creative process it takes to deliver meaningful, inspirational content to end users. She is an accomplished home cook and gardner who would love to combine those skills and passions with her health and fitness background to continue educating readers about a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle.