Why Skipping Breakfast is Bad for Your Heart

Submitted on October 7, 2013
We've all heard that breakfast's the most important meal of the day...here's one more reason to tuck in!

It's almost old news that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Several studies have proved that starting the day with a healthy and even heavy breakfast can help prevent obesity and reduce the risk of high blood pressure and type-2 diabetes. In addition to these perks of breaking your ‘fast’ in time, a recent study published in the journal Circulation and conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, confirms that skipping breakfast can also significantly increase the risk of heart disease.

In this study, nearly 27,000 men aged 45 and above were quizzed about their daily eating habits. About 13% of the men reported that they missed breakfast on a regular basis. This group was followed over the next sixteen years and results showed that 7% of the men who skipped breakfast suffered fatal heart attacks. Researchers on the study calculated a 27% increased risk of heart disease taking into consideration other factors such as diet, drinking, smoking, obesity and high blood pressure. While this study was an observational one and not proving an immediate cause and effect scenario, it serves to indicate an important health risk that should not be ignored. It also purports that these results can apply to women and other age groups as well.

So why does skipping breakfast increase your risk of heart disease? Experts are still not absolutely certain about why this happens but there are a number of theories that can throw some light on the matter. One such theory is that people who skip breakfast tend to eat heavier or larger meals later in the day. Missing breakfast can lead to more hunger as the day progresses and a tendency to binge on calorie-laden food later on. The body is then forced to process a larger amount of calories and fat within a smaller amount of time. This then leads to irregular blood sugar levels and an increased risk of clogged arteries and high cholesterol.

Another idea is that the timing of breakfast makes all the difference. When you eat your meals is as important and what you eat. Eating a heavy meal late at night before sleeping can do as much harm to the system as skipping breakfast every morning. Eating irregularly can mess up your metabolism and set the groundwork for heart disease later on in life.
Some researchers believe that those who eat a proper breakfast are usually more health conscious than those who skip their first meal of the day. Breakfast eaters tend to be more in tune with their body’s demands and appetites and avoid overloading the system at any given time. Not smoking and drinking, exercising regularly and sleeping well in addition to eating on time all contribute towards a healthy future.

The type of food you consume for breakfast can also affect your health. Most breakfast choices provide with you a great opportunity to eat ‘healthy.’ Choose a whole grain or multi grain cereal along with fresh fruit and dairy and you have a well-rounded meal that will see you through the day. That said, while a sugary donut and a latte are not exactly ideal breakfast pickings, not having anything at all can wreak more havoc on your health in the long run.

Eric Rimm, the senior author and associate professor of the Harvard study reiterates that so much research has been done on reducing heart disease and the positive effects of quitting smoking and regular exercise. While these things require a certain degree of effort, a simple addition to your normal routine such as eating breakfast can make a world of a difference to your health as well.


  1. http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/features/skipping-breakfast-may-increase-coronary-heart-disease-risk/
  2. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_138936.html