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Concerned About Type 2 Diabetes? Heart Disease? Eat Breakfast!
Beth M. Ley, Ph.D.

Skipping breakfast seems to increase type 2 diabetes risk, regardless of how many times a person eats each day. Skipping lunch and eating all your calories in the evening and into the night is a sure fire way to gain weight and end up with type 2 diabetes as well.

Having a family history of diabetes, being overweight or obese, and lack of physical activity all figure into type 2 diabetes risk. Now we can add eating patterns—how many times per day a person eats, snacking habits, and eating breakfast—as something to address to lower our own diabetes risk.

To study connections between eating patterns and type 2 diabetes, researchers collected information on diet and health habits from 29,206 men. The group, with an average age of 58 years, was fol- lowed for 16 years to determine who developed diabetes. After adjusting for other things that can affect risk—body mass index, other dietary habits, smoking, and exercise—the researchers found that: (Mekary)
  • Men who regularly skipped breakfast were 21% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes compared with men who ate breakfast.

  • Men who ate one to two times per day had 25% higher risk of developing diabetes compared with men who ate three times daily.

  • Men who skipped breakfast and ate one to three times daily had a higher type 2 diabetes risk than men who ate breakfast and ate one to three times per day, and

  • Additional daily snacking beyond three main meals was associated with higher diabetes risk, but only in overweight and obese men.
Research shows that skipping breakfast seems to increase type 2 diabetes risk, regardless of how many times a person eats each day. As well, skipping breakfast may set us up for eating just once or twice daily, another habit that may contribute to higher diabetes risk. Lots of snacking may be a problem too if you’re carrying excess weight. It appears that breakfast has an important role to play in keeping us healthy.

It is also important to eat small meals.... 3 times a day with a snack IF needed. You do not have to eat a snack unless you feel very hungry or feel your blood sugar has dropped to an unsafe level causing lightheadedness, etc. Overeating is also a huge contributor to type 2 diabetes as well as weight gain.

Many people tell me they have no time to eat breakfast in the morning. My suggestions are below and far superior to drinking a can a pop, a sweet role or nothing. A little preparation goes a long way.

Breakfast Tips:

Be prepared. Keep your fridge stocked with quick breakfast staples like fruit, yogurt, almonds or other nuts and eggs. Always keep hardboiled eggs on hand. Peel a couple the night before and then they will be ready to grab as you’re running out the door on the way to work or school.

Smoothies! In the evening, place frozen berries and a scoop of plain Greek yogurt or kefir in your blender container; store in the fridge. In the morning, add ground flax seeds, WATER or ice and blend. Pour into your to-go container, and leave the water-filled blender container in the sink. Clean up later is a breeze, because it’s been soaking all day.

Go Greek. Greek yogurt makes a quick and convenient morning meal. It’s loaded with protein and takes no preparation time. Pair it with an apple (and cinnamon) or berries. Add ground flax for fiber and Omega-3’s to help you feel full longer. Stock up so you don't run out. It has a long shelf life due to the natural probiotics that also aid your digestion and immune system.

Say Cheese! Even eating a couple pieces of string cheese (or other cheese) and an apple or other peice of fruit will go a long way to keep your blood sugar and metabolism boosted for the day.

Choose Wisely. Do your best to make smart choices. A handful of nuts and a piece of fruit is FAR better rather than ready-to-eat processed cereal (lacks protein, fiber , complex carbs and nutrients) or even worse, a donut. (Bazzano)

Eating small amounts 2 to 4 times per day, seems to be healthiest. A brand new study (April 2012), Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence Cross-Sectional Study showed that addition to skipping breakfast, frequent snacking on chocolate, burgers and pizzas, soft drinks or juices, is associated with higher metabolic risk score (insulin resistance) in females. The researchers acknowledged that poor food choices contributed to the outcome. (Sesé)

Data from the same study also revealed an association between breakfast consumption and cardiovascular risk factors in European adolescents. The data indicated that adolescents who regularly consume breakfast have lower body fat content. The results also show that regular breakfast con- sumption is associated with higher cardiorespiratory fitness in adolescents, and with a healthier cardiovascular profile, especially in males. Eating breakfast regularly may also negate somewhat the effect of excess adiposity on Triglyercides and LDL-Cholesterol, especially in male adolescents.

Scientific References:

Bazzano LA, Song Y, Bubes V, Good CK, Manson JE, Liu S. Dietary intake of whole and refined grain breakfast cereals and weight gain in men. Obes Res. 2005 Nov;13(11):1952-60.

Hallström L, et al, Breakfast consumption and CVD risk factors in European adolescents: the HELE- NA (Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence) Study. Public Health Nutr. 2012 Apr 12:1-10.

Mekary RA, Giovannucci E, Willett WC, van Dam RM, Hu FB. Eating patterns and type 2 diabetes risk in men: breakfast omission, eating frequency, and snacking. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 May;95(5):1182-9.

Sesé MA, et al. Eating behaviour, insulin resistance and cluster of metabolic risk factors in European adolescents. The HELENA Study.Appetite. 2012 Apr 21;59(1):140-147.