Have you eaten your breakfast today? As nutritionists and dietitians, we all know that breakfast is an important meal of the day. Through personal experience and professional knowledge, we know that a good breakfast gives us the much-needed energy in the morning and has an advantage for memory among other things. There are innumerable benefits from regular breakfast consumption and yet sometimes we fail to set a good example to the others when we skip breakfast.
Recent studies throw light on the effects of skipping breakfast. A cross-sectional survey was conducted among 539 school children aged 8 to 12 years to examine the association between non-HDL cholesterol (non-HDL-c) levels and skipping breakfast. The survey concluded that non-HDL-c level is positively associated with the number of skipping breakfast among school children, and that further research is needed to confirm this relationship (1).
The findings of another cross-sectional study suggest that skipping breakfast is a risk factor for lower muscle mass in healthy young subjects, irrespective of strong confounders such as age, gender and physical activity (2).
A systematic review and meta-analysis of 6 studies based on 96,175 participants concluded that breakfast skipping is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and the association is partly mediated by BMI (3).
In a prospective, case-control study of 1607 individuals (980 patients of CAD undergoing various cardiac interventions for revascularisation and 627 healthy individuals who were free from CAD), breakfast skipping emerged as a stronger risk factor than obesity and sedentary lifestyle in Indians from an Indian western state and showed close association with presence of hypertension (4).
The above studies should help us convince our patients / clients that skipping breakfast can be detrimental to health in many ways.
Moving on to why breakfast is important, here are a few recent studies that reiterate what we already believe and throw light on newer aspects.
A study showed that eating breakfast decreased morning and daily hunger, desire to eat, prospective food consumption and ghrelin, whereas fullness increased, in comparison to those who skipped breakfast. Those who ate breakfast also reduced their evening intake of high-carbohydrate and high-fat foods compared to breakfast skippers. Perceived sleep quality and sleep onset tended to improve with breakfast eaters compared with breakfast skippers (5).
Results of a study conducted on 527 Spanish adolescents showed that those having a good quality breakfast showed better health-related quality of life and lower levels of stress and depression than those who ate a poor-quality breakfast. Further breakfast skippers showed better health-related quality of life and lower levels of stress and depression than breakfast eaters who ate a poor-quality breakfast. These findings indicate the importance of eating a good quality breakfast, rather than just having or not having breakfast (6).
Indians are known for their higher body fat for a given BMI compared to western population. Adolescents who ate breakfast regularly presented lower body fatness independent of physical activity, whereas trunk fatness decreased in adolescents who improved physical activity (7). This suggests that not only is breakfast important for reduced body fat but also for improved physical activity.
When Australian adults were surveyed for their breakfast habits, it was found that 12% of adults were breakfast skippers, 41% were breakfast cereal consumers and 47% were non-cereal breakfast consumers. Females were more likely to have a non-cereal breakfast than males. Breakfast cereal consumption increased with age. Breakfast cereal consumers had the lowest mean BMI and waist circumference and had healthier diets at both breakfast and throughout the day. They were the most likely to meet their daily recommended serves for grain foods, fruit, dairy and vegetables and had the highest whole grain food intake. Additionally, breakfast cereal consumers had the most favourable daily nutrient intakes including the lowest added sugars intakes (8).
With numerous studies supporting the importance of breakfast, there is little doubt that breakfast plays a vital role in physical and mental health. As healthcare professionals we need to ensure that, the correct message regarding the importance and benefits of breakfast is passed on to the public.
Sheela Krishnaswamy, RD
Nutrition & Wellness Consultant
1. Liu J, Gibson D, Stearne K, Dobbin SW, Skipping breakfast and non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level in school children: a preliminary analysis, Public Health, 2019 Jan 24; 168:43-46.
2. Yasuda J, Asako M, Arimitsu T, Fujita S, Skipping breakfast is associated with lower fat-free mass in healthy young subjects: a cross-sectional study, Nutr Res, 2018 Dec; 60:26-32.
3. Ballon A, Neuenschwander M, Schlesinger S, Breakfast skipping is associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes among adults: a systemic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies, J Nutr 2019 1; 149(1):106-113.
4. Sharma K, Shah K, Brahmbhatt P, Kandre Y, Skipping breakfast and the risk of coronary artery disease, QJM 2018 Oct 1; 111(10):715-719.
5. Gwin JA, Leidy HJ, Breakfast consumption augments appetite, eating behaviour, and exploratory markers of sleep quality compared with skipping breakfast in healthy young adults, Curr Dev Nutr, 2018 Aug 28; 2(11):nzy074.
6. Ferrer-Cascales R, Sanchez-SanSegundo M, Ruiz-Robledillo N, Albaladejo-Blazquez N, Laguna-Perez A, Zaragoza-Marti A, Eat or skip breakfast? The important role of breakfast quality for health-related quality of life, stress and depression in Spanish adolescents, Int J Environ Res Public Health, 2018 Aug 19; 15(8)
7. Cayres SU, Urban JB, Fernandes RA, Physical activity and skipping breakfast have independent effects on body fatness among adolescents, J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr, 2018 Nov; 67(5):666-670.
8. Fayet-Moore F, McConnell A, Cassettari T, Petocz P, Breakfast choice is associated with nutrient, food group and discretionary intakes in Australian adults at both breakfast and the rest of the day, Nutrients 2019 Jan 15; 11(1).
The views and opinions expressed by the author in this blog are purely those of the author and do not represent those of Kellogg India. Kellogg India is not responsible for ensuring the accuracy or completeness of the information provided in the blog. The information is being presented on “as is” basis and is not medical advice and is not meant to act as substitute for medical advice. Kellogg India is not responsible for any consequences arising from use of or reliance on the information. This blog is brought to you by Kellogg India as part of the nutrition awareness initiative of Kellogg India.