Skipping breakfast every day may be a bad idea after all especially if
you are overweight because it could increase the risk of developing
A small new study found that when women skipped the morning meal, they
experienced insulin resistance, a condition in which a person
requires more insulin to bring their blood sugar into a normal range,
explained Dr. Elizabeth Thomas, an instructor of medicine at the
University of Colorado.
This insulin resistance was short-term in the study, but when the
condition is chronic, it is a risk factor for diabetes, Thomas said.
She is due to present her findings at the Endocrine Society’s annual
meeting in San Francisco.
“Eating a healthy breakfast is probably beneficial,” Thomas said. “It
may not only help you control your weight but avoid diabetes.”
Diabetes has been diagnosed in more than 10 million Nigerians. Most
have type 2 diabetes, in which the body does not make enough insulin
or does not use it effectively. Excess weight is a risk factor for
The new study included nine women. Their average age was 29, and all
were overweight or obese. Thomas measured their levels of insulin and
blood sugar on two different days after the women ate lunch. On one
day, they had eaten breakfast; on the other day, they had skipped it.
Glucose levels normally rise after eating a meal, and that in turn
triggers insulin production, which helps the cells take in the glucose
and convert it to energy.
However, the women’s insulin and glucose levels after lunch were much
higher on the day they skipped breakfast than on the day they ate it.
On the day they did not eat breakfast, Thomas explained, “they
required a higher level of insulin to handle the same meal.”
“There was a 28 percent increase in the insulin response and a 12
percent increase in the glucose response after skipping breakfast,”
she said. That’s a mild rise in glucose and a moderate rise in
insulin, she noted.
Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, the data and
conclusions are viewed as preliminary until published in a
“Their study doesn’t prove causation,” said Dr. Joel Zonszein, a
professor of clinical medicine at the Albert Einstein College of
Medicine and director of the Clinical Diabetes Center at Montefiore
Medical Center, in New York City.
The study found only a link or association between breakfast skipping
and higher insulin levels. More research is needed for confirmation,
another expert said.
“This is a small, but very interesting, study,” said Dr. Ping Wang,
director of the University of California, Irvine, Health Diabetes
Center. “The findings will have to be verified with larger studies.”
Whether the effect is short-term or long-term is not known, Wang said.
Zonszein recommends against either skipping meals or eating very
frequent meals, the so-called nibbling diet. “Studies done in Europe
have shown that a large meal in the middle of the day is better than a
large meal at dinner,” he said.
However, he acknowledged that pattern is more of a habit in Europe
than in the United States. Even so, he advises his patients to eat a
good breakfast, a good lunch and a lighter dinner.
Other ways to reduce diabetes risk, according to the American Diabetes
Association, are to control weight, blood pressure and cholesterol and
to be physically active.