Skipping your breakfast can increase the risk of heart attack by almost 30%

Study shows a morning meal is needed to take the body out of its  protective ‘fasting state’

Skipping breakfast can increase your risk of a heart attack or fatal coronary heart disease by as much as 27 per cent, a new study has found.

While the benefits of having a regular breakfast for daily energy levels and weight control are well known, researchers at Harvard University found that it was also crucial for good heart health.

Regularly skipping breakfast put people at high risk of a number of conditions – such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol – which can lead to heart disease, said the lead author of the report, Dr Leah Cahill, from the School of Public Health at Harvard.

People who missed breakfast were more likely to be smokers, unmarried and drink more alcohol than those who eat their morning meal, the study found. But the scientists were able to look at the impact of skipping breakfast in isolation of these other factors, which might have a negative effect on health.

“We ruled out everything except for the timing of the meal – the actual breaking of fast,” Dr Cahill told The Independent.

“When your body is fasting it goes into a protective drive, raising your blood pressure, raising levels of insulin and cholesterol. If you don’t breakfast in the morning you’re putting an extra strain on your body after it’s already been fasting all night,” she said.

“Over many years of doing this, you can develop insulin resistance – which leads to diabetes – or high cholesterol or high blood pressure, which can all lead to heart disease,” Dr Cahill added.

The study tracked the eating habits and health outcomes of 27,000 male health professionals aged between 45 and 82, over 16 years. A parallel study looking at the impact of skipping breakfast on women is still in progress, but Dr Cahill said it was unlikely there would be any difference between the sexes.

Late-night snacks were found to be even worse for heart health than skipping breakfast in the morning, with the small number of men who reported eating after going to bed having a 55 per cent higher chance of heart disease.  

“We think the effect with late-night eating is similar, but opposite,” said Dr Cahill. “It is overloading your body. It doesn’t let the body digest properly. That could cause the same things, high blood pressure, weight gain, changes in blood sugar levels.”

During the study, 1,572 of the men had a first-time cardiac event. Dr Cahill said that the benefits of a healthy breakfast were beyond doubt, given the results of her report.

“Your body is programmed to be in a fasting state and then a fed state,” she said. “If you’re not timing that well throughout the day, it can lead to all these intermediate conditions, like diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, which in turn can lead to heart disease.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
Buddy DeFranco
people
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Accounts Administrator

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
    Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

    Finally, a diet that works

    Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
    Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

    Say it with... lyrics

    The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
    Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

    The joys of 'thinkering'

    Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
    Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

    Monique Roffey interview

    The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
    Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

    Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

    Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
    DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

    Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

    It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
    Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

    How we met

    Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

    Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

    Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
    Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

    Who does your club need in the transfer window?

    Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
    The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015