Dieticians link skipping breakfast to obesity, diabetes, hypertension

Nutrition experts have cautioned Nigerians against skipping breakfast regularly, warning that the habit increases their risk of experiencing adverse health challenges like obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and atrial fibrillation.

The experts noted that skipping breakfast can lead to a reduction of sugar levels, slow metabolism, and cause an increase in the stress of hormones.

According to the experts, unknown to many Nigerians, people who skip breakfast are at risk of having heart-related diseases.

Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, the experts, a nutrition and public health specialist, Dr. James Oloyede, and a dietician, Dr. Goke Ogunlana, said eating in the morning helps with insulin level stabilisation and glycogen replenishment, adding that people who skip breakfast will often feel excessively hungry, angry, and exhausted.

Dr. Ogunlana noted that people who eat breakfast are likely to have a healthy diet because they take in more fiber and minerals.

He added that having breakfast can also assist the body burn some calories, stressing that when people skip meals for an extended period, their bodies start to store as many calories as they can.

He further said, “According to some research, eating breakfast can help your body burn more calories throughout the day. Your body starts to store as many calories as it can when you go without meals for a long time to get ready for a possible period of hunger. The body even uses the glucose that is stored in your muscles as a backup source of fuel as metabolism levels drop, which essentially causes your muscles to waste away.

“Breakfast means, “breaking the fast” from the entire night that you spent asleep. Eating in the morning aids in insulin level stabilisation and glycogen replenishment.

“In the morning, if you don’t restore your glucose levels, you’ll feel excessively hungry, angry, and exhausted. You’ll encounter these symptoms first thing in the morning, especially if you miss breakfast.

“You are more likely to gain weight and have a higher risk of atherosclerosis, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and high cholesterol if you consistently skip breakfast.

“In a study that lasted sixteen years, it was discovered that males who skipped breakfast every day had a 27 per cent higher risk of having a heart attack or dying from coronary heart disease.”

In his submission, Dr. Oloyede, a former Director of Nutrition Services in Osun State, insisted that it is counterproductive to skip breakfast even in weight control.

He added, “When breakfast is skipped, the clock genes related to weight loss are often down-regulated leading to a spike in blood sugar in healthy individuals and poor insulin responses in diabetics for the rest of the day. This mechanism shows that skipping breakfast often leads to weight gain even if such individuals do not overeat for the rest of the day

“The major thing that happens when you skipped breakfast is that your blood sugar drops, your metabolism slows down there is raised cortisol level with all its attendant consequences like a spike in sugar level after lunch, weight gain, moodiness, tiredness, very clumsy at work and feeling of lightheadedness, in addition to raised BP, a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and Obesity

“People should understand that the longer they stay without eating, the more their blood sugar levels will spike at the next meal. Even in weight control, skipping breakfast has been found to be counterproductive as the calories they thought to have been burnt will be regained during the next meal. The best thing to do is to spread the total meal in small portions fed frequently rather than skipping breakfast.

“Finally, people should cultivate the habit of taking something in the morning to start the day. It’s counterproductive to keep skipping breakfast.”

According to a study published online by the National Library of Medicine titled, ‘Skipping Breakfast and the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and Death: A Systematic Review of Prospective Cohort Studies in Primary Prevention Settings’, people who skip breakfast may be at greater risk of experiencing adverse health outcomes compared to people who regularly consume breakfast.

The study also discovered that those who routinely miss breakfast are around 21 per cent more likely to experience a cardiovascular (CVD) event or pass away from one, and 32 per cent more likely to pass away from all causes than people who regularly eat breakfast.

The study was carried out by extracting data from studies that reported the prospective association between skipping breakfast and the risk of CVD development and mortality as well as all-cause death which was published online from inception until May 5, 2019.

The study stressed that omitting breakfast has been associated with obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and atrial fibrillation, and may also impair serum lipids and postprandial insulin sensitivity.

The study also highlighted that skipping breakfast has been linked to increased arterial stiffness and carotid atheromatic load.

The study submitted, “Pooled data from a small number of published prospective cohort studies from the United States and Japan suggest that skipping breakfast is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality as well as all-cause death.

“However, the definition of skipping breakfast was highly heterogenous and residual confounding factors pose a challenge for the interpretation of available data. Large prospective studies that utilize consistent definitions of skipping breakfast and are conducted across different populations are needed to provide more robust evidence of the health effects of skipping breakfast.”


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