The study – published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology – analysed the eating habits of over 4000 people, finding that those who skipped breakfast were more likely to have a dangerous plaque buildup in their arteries. This puts them at risk of at increased risk for cardiovascular disease.
People who skipped breakfast were also found to have the greatest waist circumference and the highest body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol and fasting glucose levels. However the study could not show a cause-and-effect relationship between those who missed the first meal of the day and these measures.
The researchers highlighted that those who skipped brekkie also tended to have overall poor diets, frequent alcohol consumption and smoking habits.
Prakash Deedwania, MD, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and author of the accompanying editorial comment said that the study is evidence that breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.
"Between 20 and 30 percent of adults skip breakfast and these trends mirror the increasing prevalence of obesity and associated cardiometabolic abnormalities," Deedwania said.
"Poor dietary choices are generally made relatively early in life and, if remained unchanged, can lead to clinical cardiovascular disease later on. Adverse effects of skipping breakfast can be seen early in childhood in the form of childhood obesity and although breakfast skippers are generally attempting to lose weight, they often end up eating more and unhealthy foods later in the day. Skipping breakfast can cause hormonal imbalances and alter circadian rhythms.”