Children who skip or miss out on breakfast each morning may face a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a new British study.
Researchers have long argued about whether or not breakfast is the most important meal of the day, with some previous studies linking a lack of morning meals with an increased risk of health problems, including obesity and type 2 diabetes in adults.
To investigate further, researchers at the University of London examined over 4000 primary school children in the UK aged 9 and 10 years old. The kids were quizzed on how often they ate breakfast, while the team also took body fat measurements and blood samples to test for markers of diabetes.
The team found that levels of fasting blood insulin and insulin resistance – major risk factors for type 2 diabetes – were both 26% higher in kids who regularly skipped breakfast than those who reported eating a morning meal on daily basis. Skipping breakfast was also linked to slightly higher fasting glycated haemoglobi, or HbA1c.
In addition, kids who did report eating breakfast most days were further quizzed on what they had for breakfast the previous day.
Among those who were able to recall their full breakfast from the day before, both insulin levels and insulin resistance were lower in participants who ate high fibre cereal breakfasts compared to kids who ate any other type of breakfast.
The results remained statistically significant after adjusting for factors including levels of physical activity and socioeconomic status.
The authors concluded: “The observed associations suggest that regular breakfast consumptio, particularly involving consumption of a high fibre cereal, could protect against the early development of type 2 diabetes risk.”
Lead researcher Angela Doni, of St George’s, University of London, said: “When we’ve talked about kids and breakfast before, it has tended to be more about cognitive outcomes and classroom behaviour. But now we’re moving more towards something that could also potentially have effects on the long-term future health of kids. We need to look into that further.”
The study was published online in the journal PLoS Medicine.

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