Researchers at the Royal Children’s Hospital, in Victoria, Australia looked for an association between skipping breakfast and cardiometabolic risk factors in adulthood.

They’ve come across a finding that’s particularly interesting.

Cardiometabolic risk is defined as the overall risk of developing type 2 diabetes and/or cardiovascular disease (heart attack, stroke) due to a cluster of modifiable risk factors.

Now, the details.

  • In 1985, a national sample of Australian children reported whether they usually ate breakfast before school.
  • During follow-up (2004 to 2006), 2184 participants(now adults) completed a meal-frequency chart for the previous day.
  • Skipping breakfast was defined as not eating between 6 and 9 AM.
  • Participants were classified into 4 groups.
    • Never skipped breakfast in childhood nor adulthood
    • Skipped breakfast only in childhood
    • Skipped breakfast only in adulthood
    • Skipped breakfast in childhood and adulthood
  • Diet quality was assessed, waist circumference was measured, and blood samples were taken after a 12-hour fast.
  • Differences in average waist circumference and blood sugar levels, insulin, and lipid levels were calculated.
  • Adjustments were made for age, gender, and sociodemographic and lifestyle factors.

And, the results.

  • Skipping breakfast during childhood and adulthood was associated with a larger waist circumference(average difference: 4.63 cm [1.82 inches).
  • They also had higher fasting insulin levels, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol levels than did those who ate breakfast during childhood and adulthood.
  • Additional adjustments for diet quality and waist circumference attenuated the associations with cardiometabolic variables, but the differences remained significant.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “Skipping breakfast over a long period may have detrimental effects on cardio metabolic health. Promoting the benefits of eating breakfast could be a simple and important public health message.”

Let’s not kid ourselves.

The most fascinating result from 2 years of studying more than 2000 people is that eating breakfast (any breakfast!) is associated with a 2-inch smaller waistline! Actually, the range was 1.7 to 7.5 cm (up to 3 inches).

That’s huge.

Recommendations that should optimize the positive response to eating breakfast are summarized here.

10/23/10 19:53 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.