MIAMI, March 6, 2003
In their study, researchers found that obesity
and insulin resistance syndrome rates were 35 percent to 50
percent lower among people who ate breakfast every day compared
to those who frequently skipped it.
"Our results suggest that breakfast may really be
the most important meal of the day," says Mark A. Pereira, Ph.D., a research
associate at Children's Hospital in Boston and assistant professor
at Harvard Medical School. "It appears that breakfast
may play an important role in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes
and cardiovascular disease."
Pereira says eating breakfast might have beneficial effects
on appetite, insulin resistance and energy metabolism.
"Just the habit of filling your belly in the morning
might help people control their hunger throughout the day so
be less likely to overeat in the morning or at lunch," he
"Or, there might be a hormonal basis for some of the
effects because the hormone insulin controls blood sugar and
sugar level is related to how hungry or energetic a person
Insulin resistance syndrome is a metabolic disorder characterized
by the combination of several factors such as obesity, high
abdominal body fat, high blood pressure, and high fasting levels
of blood sugar or the hormone insulin, which helps the body
store glucose properly. The syndrome also often includes problems
in blood fat metabolism such as high levels of triglycerides
and low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL – the "good" cholesterol).
Although people with insulin resistance syndrome may not yet
have diabetes, their bodies do not use glucose efficiently
and those with the condition are at greater risk of developing
type 2 diabetes as well as heart disease.
The risk reduction for obesity and insulin resistance was consistent
for white men and women and for black men but not for black
women, a difference the researchers are continuing to study,
Overall, about 47 percent of the whites and 22 percent of the
blacks reported daily breakfast consumption. "Dietary
patterns are known to differ widely, probably due to cultural
differences, by race and ethnicity and even between men and
women," he says.
The subjects included 1,198 black and 1,633 white participants
of the CARDIA study whose breakfast habits and risk factors
for heart disease were assessed over an eight-year period (1992-2000).
Participants were aged 25-37 in 1992. The study results accounted
for risk factors such as smoking, low physical activity, alcohol
use and demographic factors. The CARDIA study is a prospective
study of heart disease risk factors among young adults in four
communities: Minneapolis; Oakland, Calif.; Chicago, and Birmingham.
This large, prospective study of young adults from two different
racial groups makes a unique contribution to the literature,
Pereira says. But, it's limited because researchers can't determine
cause and effect from a self-reporting study.
"We need to do more research," he adds. "We have started
looking at what people are eating when they eat breakfast,
which led to our finding that eating whole-grain cereal each
day was associated with a 15 percent reduction in risk for
the insulin resistance syndrome."
Whole-grain cereals were defined as those that list a whole
grain or bran first in the ingredients list or those that contain
a whole grain and have at least 2 grams of fiber per serving.
Co-authors are Alex I. Kartashov, Ph.D.; Linda Van Horn, Ph.D.;
Martha Slattery, Ph.D.; David R. Jacobs Jr., Ph.D.; and David
S. Ludwig, M.D., Ph.D.
From the American Heart Association