Update On Breakfast And Heart Health
This latest word on the role breakfast appears to play in health comes from a University of Iowa investigation that analyzed information from 6,550 people between the ages of 40 and 75. None had heart disease when they enrolled. Researchers asked all the participants how often they ate breakfast. Responses ranged from “never” (5.1 percent of participants) to “rarely” (10.9 percent), “some days” (25 percent) and “every day” (59 percent). After 18 years, researchers followed up to see how breakfast habits squared with heart disease deaths. They found that individuals who had reported they never ate breakfast had an 87 percent higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease than those who ate breakfast daily. The investigators wrote that skipping breakfast was linked with changes in appetite and decreased satiety as well as high blood pressure, higher cholesterol levels and, all in all, constituted “a behavioral marker for unhealthy lifestyle habits.”
My take? While these findings may seem alarming, they don’t prove that skipping breakfast leads to death from cardiovascular disease. Rather, they show an association between the two, as did a study published in 2013 that concluded that men who skipped breakfast were at higher risk of coronary heart disease than those who ate a morning meal. In that study, researchers used questionnaires to determine the eating habits and health of some 26,902 men over a period of 16 years. Since the University of Iowa research didn’t collect information on what the participants ate for breakfast, we don’t know whether they consumed oatmeal and fresh fruit or bacon and eggs, or if the meal menu even matters. My view is that breakfast is important for some people and less so for others – a matter of individual preference, and one that may change throughout life.
S. Rong et al, “Association of Skipping Breakfast with Cardiovascular and All-Cause Mortality,” Journal of the American College of Cardiology, April 30, 2019, doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2019.01.065
More from this week’s bulletin: