Surprising New Research About the Dangers of Skipping Breakfast

Not eating the first meal of the day could have some scary consequences for both men and women.

New research suggests that skipping breakfast regularly increases men's risk of suffering a heart attack. Women who skip breakfast are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day for various reasons, but approximately 18 percent of American adults admit to skipping it. New research provides two more convincing reasons not to miss out: Skipping breakfast ups the risk of heart attacks in men and diabetes in women. 

The theories were explored in two separate Harvard studies published this month. In the first, researchers from the Harvard University of Public Health found that men who skipped breakfast were 27 percent more likely to be at risk of coronary heart disease than men who did not skip. It was the first study of its kind to examine the relationship between skipping meals and heart health.

The study, published in the American Heart Association’s Circulation journal, involved almost 27,000 men between the ages of 45 and 82 who were previously free of heart disease and cancer. Those who reported skipping breakfast were generally younger and were more likely to be single, to smoke, to work full time, drink more alcohol, and be less physically active. Over the course of 16 years, there were 1,527 reports of coronary heart disease. 

Researchers said one reason for the increased risk may be that skipping breakfast often leads to eating heavy, high-calorie meals later in the day. They noted another finding that men who ate late at night were 55 percent more likely to be at risk of heart attack.

The other Harvard study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, involved 46,289 women and found that those who skipped breakfast were at 20 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than women who ate breakfast regularly. Past research has indicated that eating breakfast likely stabilizes blood sugar and insulin levels throughout the day. 

Lucky for you, here at Well+Being we’ve got a slew of healthy breakfast recipes—many of which take only a few minutes to whip together.