Skipping breakfast raises heart attack risk by 27%: Study

LONDON: Skipping breakfast, common the world over, has for the first time been associated with increase in heart attacks. Missing out on the morning meal has been found to increase coronary heart disease risk, reveals a 16-year-long study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

Men who skip breakfast have a 27% higher risk of heart attack or death from coronary heart disease than those who don’t, the study says. Those who reported not eating breakfast were younger than those who did, and more likely to be smokers, employed full time, unmarried, less physically active and drank more alcohol.

Also, men who reported eating late at night had a 55% higher coronary heart disease risk than those who didn’t. Researchers analyzed food frequency questionnaire data and tracked health outcomes for 16 years (1992-2008) on 26,902 male health professionals ages 45-82 before coming to their conclusion.

“Skipping breakfast may lead to one or more risk factors, includingobesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, which may in turn lead to a heart attack over time,” said Leah E Cahill, lead author from the Harvard School of Public Health.

“Our study group spent decades studying the health effects of diet quality and composition, and now this new data also suggests overall dietary habits can be important to lower risk of coronary heart disease,” said co-author Eric Rimm.

Men who reported eating breakfast, on an average, ate one more time per day than those who skipped breakfast, implying that those who abstained from breakfast were not eating additional make-up meals later in the day. Although there was some overlap between those who skipped breakfast and those who ate late at night, 76% of late-night eaters also ate breakfast, researchers said.

The study collected comprehensive questionnaire data from the participants and accounted for many important factors such as TV watching, physical activity, sleep, diet quality, alcohol intake, medical history, and body-mass index. It also included social factors like whether or not the men worked full-time, were married, saw their doctor regularly for physical exams, or smoked currently or in the past.

“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.”