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Medicine Science

Skipping Breakfast May Be Linked To Poor Heart Health, Study Says (theguardian.com) 165

A new study says that skipping breakfast could be linked to poorer cardiovascular health. The findings reveal that, compared with those who wolfed down an energy-dense breakfast, those who missed the meal had a greater extent of the early stages of atherosclerosis -- a buildup of fatty material inside the arteries. The Guardian reports: The research is part of a larger study that will follow the participants over a decade or more to see how disease in the arteries progresses. Published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the research looked at the health and diets of 4,052 middle-aged bank workers, both men and women, with no previous history of cardiovascular disease. At the start of the study, which is partly funded by the Spanish bank Santander, participants completed a detailed questionnaire into what they had eaten and when over the previous 15 days. Body mass index, cholesterol levels and other measures were collected, together with data including the participants' smoking status, educational attainment and level of physical activity. Imaging techniques were used to track the extent of the early, sub-clinical stages of atherosclerosis in six arteries, including those around the heart, thighs and neck. The results reveal that, compared to those tucking into more than 20% of their daily calories at breakfast, those who consumed next to nothing for breakfast had a greater extent of atherosclerosis.
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Skipping Breakfast May Be Linked To Poor Heart Health, Study Says

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  • Question (Score:5, Funny)

    by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Wednesday October 04, 2017 @02:10AM (#55306437)

    What if my preferred breakfast is glazed donuts?

    • Well, donuts would certainly qualify as "energy-dense" as described in the summary, but this is all a very recent aberration in our evolutionary development. Obviously, donuts don't grow on trees. In fact, such pure sources of carbohydrate are extremely rare in nature, which is why we are not well adapted to them. (Carbs have no nutritional value; you could eliminate them completely from your diet, and get along just fine.) The fruits that do grow on trees are rich in carbs, but they are only available in s

      • Re:Question (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday October 04, 2017 @03:40AM (#55306643)

        You know what else isn't available in nature? Cooking. Oh, and in the northern regions, forget about citrus fruits, so enjoy your scurvy from time to time.

        Just because something is "unnatural" doesn't mean it's bad. It does instinctively make sense to say "hey, our ancestors didn't have X, they evolved without X, so we don't need X to survive". The fallacy here is that our ancestors only needed to survive until they could procreate to keep the species going. So dying with 30-35 is perfectly fine. You'd procreate before (at about 14-16 years of age, maybe have 2-3 more kids and die when they in turn reach the ripe age of 14-16), so the species is fine.

        You probably ain't, but who gives a shit? It's natural!

        So please can the "it's unnatural" argument. It's bollocks.

        • Re:Question (Score:5, Insightful)

          by religionofpeas ( 4511805 ) on Wednesday October 04, 2017 @03:48AM (#55306673)

          Oh, and in the northern regions, forget about citrus fruits, so enjoy your scurvy from time to time.

          There's plenty of vitamin C in other things, including raw meat.

          So dying with 30-35 is perfectly fine

          Not at all. It's very beneficial for a tribe to have elders with experience.

          • Neither of what you stated invalidates the GP's core argument, that just because something isn't "natural" doesn't mean it's not good for you.

            You know what else we consumed in pre-historic times? Older meat. We weren't above scavenging, at least not until someone correlated it with death and disease.

            Cooking solves a world of problems. The pre-historic argument which was being replied to was an incredible load of shit. Yeah they didn't get cancer. We wouldn't either if we lived such short lives. Kids crank o

          • I used to mistakenly think that you needed citrus fruit for vitamin C. This is a very bad and wrong idea. The point about citrus fruit is that it contains a ton of teeth rotting citric acid so you can store it for sea voyages without anything growing in it - particularly if you mix it 50:50 with Rum to prevent the vast quantities of sugar in citrus juice from fermenting and exploding out of its container. Citrus fruit is a shit source of vitamin C unless you are on a medieval sailing boat, contains no dieta

          • When you died at the old age of 35 a million years ago, chances are that you have seen the birth of your grandchild maybe managed to be there to see it through those critical first 3-5 years of its life, how much more "elder" do you want to get? Ok, granted, maybe you can make it to 40 and see your great-grandchild be born, but I guess that's already asking a bit much, ain't it?

          • So dying with 30-35 is perfectly fine

            Not at all. It's very beneficial for a tribe to have elders with experience.

            Elder is a relative term.

          • by houghi ( 78078 )

            I have read somewhere that the average age was so low because child death was so high. Average was actually around 50 when you deduct the kids dying after the first year.

            So there where elders and it was an average, so older ones where there as well.

            Not sure where I got the info from or what period it spoke of.

            • I had a similar discussion with a friend of mine who studies prehistory and early human development.

              It's pretty hard to determine the "real" average age of ancient people just by digging through their graves (if they have anything like this at all). Let's imagine you find a prehistoric graveyard. What will you find? Well, a bunch of people who were buried there, of course. What will you not find? Anyone whose body could not be retrieved by the tribe. In other words, you will not find the kids that the lion

        • Yeah... I would consider a paleodiet when coding for money will be called a paleojob.

        • by tomhath ( 637240 )

          You know what else isn't available in nature? Cooking

          There's plenty of evidence that human evolution took off around the time they learned to use fire. Cooking meat and vegetables makes them easier to digest, providing the extra energy needed by larger brains.

        • Just because something is "unnatural" doesn't mean it's bad.

          Also, the idea that there are things that are "natural" and "unnatural" is a weird, artificial notion largely without meaning.

      • (Carbs have no nutritional value; you could eliminate them completely from your diet, and get along just fine.)

        This is simply and plainly not true. Carbs are an important energy source for your body. Yes, if you cut them out completely your body will get energy from proteins and such, but there will be health impacts over the long haul, primarily with your central nervous system.

        What is true is that the typical American eats far, far more carbs than is required, and reducing them will often bring health benefits.

        • Carbs are an important energy source for your body. Yes, if you cut them out completely your body will get energy from proteins and such

          No, fats are an important energy source for your body. Carbs are just empty calories.

          • The phrase "empty calories" is generally understood to mean "food without vitamins or minerals". Pure carbohydrates, pure fats, pure protein are all empty calories.
          • I think you should have a chat with an actual nutritionist. "Empty calories" means no vitamins. Those calories are still used to fuel your body, though.

      • Most of human evolution happened near the equator. Seasons aren't very strong there, and fruit is available year-round.
    • Re:Question (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Wednesday October 04, 2017 @04:54AM (#55306855)

      What if it is? There's nothing particularly bad about eating a glazed donut a few times a week. Diet related health problems are related to the total of all foods eaten over long periods of time (in combination with other lifestyle factors), not specific food items.

      • The sugar spike of a glazed or filled doughnut on an empty stomach is in itself harmful. Damage accumulates slowly.
    • by hduff ( 570443 )

      What if my preferred breakfast is glazed donuts?

      The you are doing it right.

    • Are you me?
    • What if my preferred breakfast is glazed donuts?

      You need some protein with that. I recommend a boilermaker with a pickled egg on the side.

  • Correlation ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 04, 2017 @02:11AM (#55306441)

    People who take the time to breakfast probably also hit the sack earlier and get more sleep.

    • Re:Correlation ... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday October 04, 2017 @03:41AM (#55306647)

      People who have the time to breakfast also probably suffer from less stress and generally have more time to prepare healthy meals instead of stuffing their face with whatever is available to rip open and stir into hot water.

      • Re:Correlation ... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Bongo ( 13261 ) on Wednesday October 04, 2017 @04:53AM (#55306853)

        Anyone interested can check the blog of Dr Malcom Kendrick. He's been rabbitting on for about 30 episodes now on all the factors involved, and how the conventional view -- a view which is starting to be rejected by the mainstream, but the man in the street is yet to hear about it -- the conventional view became dogma but doesn't make sense. The lipid hypothesis is dead. The notion that fat clogs up the arteries like a drain clogged with lard, is dead. His very latest blog discusses the mechanical fluid forces inside the arteries, and in combination with what, might be a cause (the damage is usually seen only where these forces are greatest in the vessels, so always the same places, end so on). One thing reading his blogs is that he makes it abundantly clear that it is not a simple problem. But medicine kinda fell into a dogma about it. Anyway, yeah, the people not having breakfast, why is that? Maybe they are not going to be early, getting up early, and having time to eat breakfast. Maybe they are stressing themselves and not getting sleep. And a lot of repair happens during sleep. And Kendrick also talks about how the internal scabs in the arteries would be broken down gradually in a healthy person, but in some people this doesn't happen, so they eventually get too big and break off and cause a stroke, It is fascinating stuff. A quite entertaining blog is nothing else.

        • by Bongo ( 13261 )

          Sorry about the fifteen million typos in that post. :-(

        • The lipid hypothesis is dead. The notion that fat clogs up the arteries like a drain clogged with lard, is dead.

          When I was in grade school in the 1970s, our parents came to our class one by one over about a month so we could get a sense of what types of careers there were. My friend's father was a bioresearcher. He brought in samples of rabbit aortas. They'd been experimenting by feeding rabbits diets with different amounts of fat in their food. (Yes, herbivores can eat and process meat [slate.com].) After a fe

          • Although rabbits can eat and digest meat, they are herbivores by nature. Forcing them to eat meat probably leads to conclusions that cannot easily be generalized to humans.
      • There was an FDA study in the 70s or 80s that showed that pipe smokers lived on average three years more than non-smokers. If true then it's certainly down to stress or lack of it, I mean have you ever seen an angry pipe smoker?

        • Yes [blogspot.com]
        • Interesting point. Pipe smokers either tend to be a certain type of personality or pipe-smoking makes them that sort of person. Pipe smoking requires more ritual and skill than cigars, cigarettes, snuff, or chaw. By requiring more attention to getting the fire going and maintained, pipe smokers tend to be more contemplative people, more likely to think through actions before acting. (When smoking was allowed in public places, security guards didn't have to worry much about pipe smokers stealing things [or s
      • People who have the time

        Time is something in control of the people. There is almost no one on the planet who can't find 15min in his day to eat a decent breakfast, if they know of basic time management.

        Want to eat breakfast in your tight morning schedule? Wake up 15min earlier. Want to free up your evening schedule? Spend 15min less time on Slashdot / rotting in front of the TV.

      • "People who have the time to breakfast also probably suffer from less stress and generally have more time to prepare healthy meals"

        No, it's just a choice, like any other. I choose to get up about 45 minutes earlier, so I can do a bit of exercise, drink a cup of coffee, and eat a cooked breakfast. This costs me a bit of sleep, but (for me) the health benefits are worth it.

        There are days I can't pry myself out of bed, and that's fine. As Scott Adams says in his book: you just need a system, and your doing fin

      • by Quirkz ( 1206400 )

        I eat breakfast at work, as do several of my co-workers. For me that's got less to do with having/making time, as I just don't like mornings. I get up as late as possible, do as little as possible to get to work, and I'm not usually really hungry until I get there anyway.

    • Exactly.

      Journalists love to ignore the simple fact that correlation is not causation.

      Because it makes for great headlines, but also has caused many many problems.

  • Intermittent fasting (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Hmm... this is interesting.

    >Participants who skipped breakfast had the greatest waist circumference, body mass index, blood pressure, blood lipids and fasting glucose levels.

    I skip breakfast (i'm on 12/12 intermittent fasting schedule) and I'm fit, healthy BMI, no high blood pressure. Dunno about glucose, but I'm also on low carb diet, so it should never really skyrocket.

    >Participants who skipped breakfast were more likely to have an overall unhealthy lifestyle, including poor overall diet, frequent a

    • That's nice. You are an n =1. From the article, 2.9% of 4052 people in the study skipped breakfast, which works out to either 117 or 118 people. Some of them might be just like you, but probably not too many.

      There might be other factors involved, like culture or the job. Unless the authors control for it, maybe there is something with being a Spanish bank employee that leads to this kind of poor health if you don't eat breakfast?

      • The general problem though is that if the group that does skip breakfast overwhelmingly falls into other categories that are also suspected to contribute to poor heart health. The study even spells out as much:

        Participants who skipped breakfast were more likely to have an overall unhealthy lifestyle, including poor overall diet, frequent alcohol consumption and smoking. They were also more likely to be hypertensive and overweight or obese. In the case of obesity, the study authors said reverse causation cannot be ruled out, and the observed results may be explained by obese patients skipping breakfast to lose weight.

        In that case it doesn't matter that he's the exception in that group, which already seems to be an exception to most of the study population. It's far more likely that the results are not due to skipping breakfast given everything else we know.

    • BTW, a recent article in The Lancet looked at 135,335 individuals from 18 countries over a median time of 7.4 years and they found that a diet high in carbs (as a percentage of total calories) was far more typical in Asia than in the West.

    • I skip breakfast (i'm on 12/12 intermittent fasting schedule) and I'm fit, healthy BMI, no high blood pressure. Dunno about glucose, but I'm also on low carb diet, so it should never really skyrocket.

      No doubt due to the advantages of the famed healthy Russian diet, you "anonymous" coward.

  • stupid studies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mocm ( 141920 ) on Wednesday October 04, 2017 @03:01AM (#55306563)

    Who remembers what they have eaten the last 15 days? How many of the answers were incorrect, either because the people forgot or lied for
    whatever reason. These medical studies are just usefull enough to find trends that have to be backed up by real research into cause and effect.
    To even publish such early results is irresponsible and might even bias other research by leading them into a wrong direction.

    • by mentil ( 1748130 )

      I might not be able to remember everything I ate yesterday, but I could remember if I skipped breakfast.

    • Re:stupid studies (Score:5, Insightful)

      by speedplane ( 552872 ) on Wednesday October 04, 2017 @03:39AM (#55306639) Homepage
      And here's a study [nytimes.com] just last year saying breakfast doesn't matter. This is typical. Decades of nutritional studies have often turned out useless and in many cases harmful. Hard to trust anything now. Gotta just trust your gut.

      That's a pun, but it's often true. Pay close attention to how your body reacts to what you put into it. It's the best feedback mechanism we have.
      • by Cederic ( 9623 ) on Wednesday October 04, 2017 @04:17AM (#55306773) Journal

        Gotta just trust your gut.

        Having seen the remains of what my gut does to breakfast I'm not sure I want to trust it.

      • Hard to trust anything now. Gotta just trust your gut.
        That's a pun, but it's often true.

        It's not just a pun, your guts actually make decisions [scientificamerican.com]. And what's more, they seem to be pretty good at it. [fastcompany.com]

      • Decades of nutritional studies have often turned out useless and in many cases harmful.

        They have done nothing of the sort and most have been quite consistent in their conclusions. What has turned out useless and harmful is distilling the entire study down to a soundbite or headline such as "fat bad" or "carbs bad" instead of the actual conclusion that these many decades of studies have actually drawn: "Fat is bad in the complete absence of a balanced diet given conditional modifiers which are too long to explain in a headline". It just doesn't sound as catchy, and "eat a balanced meal" is too

        • Decades of nutritional studies have often turned out useless and in many cases harmful.

          They have done nothing of the sort and most have been quite consistent in their conclusions.

          Where to begin? For decades: the food pyramid was dominated by carbs; saturated fats were deemed harmful and replaced with sugar; animal fats were replaced with trans fats, so much more.

          • You can begin by reading my comment. Scientists have NEVER suggested replacing saturated fats with sugar. Likewise the food pyramid is not dominated by carbs, even if it were the largest base category (which it never was outside of the USA). The last thing you mentioned also wasn't supported by science.

            Now repeat after me: "Marketing materials from food companies and governments is not science." "Catchy one liners are not science." "I will read and understand a comment on Slashdot before replying".

            Have a go

            • Now repeat after me: "Marketing materials from food companies and governments is not science." "Catchy one liners are not science."

              Not quite.... The FDA has the power to regulate misleading or false marketing materials by food companies, but often gives its seal of approval to totally dubious claims. The sugar industry and food lobby have funded tons of "science" that is more often than not conveniently aligned with their business interests. I agree, marketing is not good science, but like it or not, when the FDA allows a dubious marketing claim and academic researchers accept industry money to provide evidence for these claims, it is

            • You can begin by reading my comment. Scientists have NEVER suggested replacing saturated fats with sugar.

              Yes they did. Back in the 60s, fat was evil. They didn't explicitly say to replace it with sugar, but the industry filled the void for them.

      • According to the latest study, you can't eat anything. [consumerfreedom.com]

        Granted, "The Center for Consumer Freedom" is a blatant lobby group for the food industry, but their radio ad campaigns that they run in the DC area are hilarious. For real laughs, listen to their archives of radio ads.
      • Well, my gut complains vigorously if I skip breakfast.

    • Who remembers what they have eaten the last 15 days?

      The answer to that would depend highly on if I was part of a study that was to record my habits.

      The only studies that come out of the blue and surprise people without any kind of forewarning are psychological studies.

      I did one of these while I was at uni. The "detailed questionnaire" I completed, well I do so on the run over a period of one month. I didn't need to remember anything more than the last night, and if I couldn't remember there was an option for that too.

    • To be honest I remember all my breakfasts from the last 15 days. But it's only because I don't change its ingredients:)
  • by Anonymous Coward

    You cannot skip breakfast.

    If you don't have meal after you woke up and eat around midday, that would be your breaking of the fast.

    No such problems in German, French, Italian or Portuguese speaking countries/people.

    Same problem in Spanish speaking countries (desayuno does really mean breaking the fast too in Spanish)

  • by religionofpeas ( 4511805 ) on Wednesday October 04, 2017 @03:08AM (#55306577)

    Always the same story. Correlation does not equal causation, especially not in extremely complex environments such as diets.

    Better research would be to tell people to start skipping breakfast, or -- if they already skip it -- to start eating one, and see what happens to these people.

    • Always the same story. Correlation does not equal causation, ...

      True, but in nutritional studies, correlation/causation is just one of the many problems. They are often based on inaccurate surveys, are in uncontrolled environments, and use unrepresentative populations.

      There's a good Malcom Gladwell podcast all about nutritional study experimentation. So many of these studies are horrible. There are exceptions though. Facilities where everything can be controlled can often make for decent nutritional studies (e.g., prisons, mental health facilities). These are few and

      • Facilities where everything can be controlled can often make for decent nutritional studies (e.g., prisons, mental health facilities). These are few and far between for the obvious reasons.

        Alas, they are far from few, or far between. (I know what you meant, but it's not the only way to read what you wrote, nor even the most logical way if you take it out of context... which is fun.)

    • Researchers have looked at readers of slashdot and them to be more unhealthy as compared to the greater population. Their typical diet being pizza in their parents basement was dismissed as unrelated to the study.

  • I understand not all people are the same, and I know people that don't eat breakfast... however, for me.. I'm just not right if I don't eat. I feel weak, dizzy, and I cannot wake up properly ( i do not drink coffee or other stimulants ), sometimes I get a headache that doesn't go away until the next day.

    Simple breakfast such as cheese, slice of bread or (not sweet) croissant and tomatoes work nicely. Doesn't have to be a full english fry up. Who has time for that ?

    • The lightness and subtle discomfort of being on an empty stomach gets me reved up. My mornings skipping bfast are usually productive, then not so good after lunch. To each their own.
    • Same here! I don't feel right until I eat something (might be a quick bite of cheese or bread) and some juice (usually orange).

  • by Dorianny ( 1847922 ) on Wednesday October 04, 2017 @03:44AM (#55306655) Journal
    People generally skip breakfast because they can't make time for it. If you would rather skip breakfast then wake up a half hour earlier then it is likely that you aren't getting a full nights rest and chronic lack a sleep has long been long been associated with poor health
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday October 04, 2017 @03:45AM (#55306663)

    Without my morning Red Bull and the two aspirin I'm simply not functional.

  • Who in the right or wrong mind skips breakfast? God made you the best time of the day: morning, when you are fresh and ready to do great things. God made you a steaming hot cup a joe and God gave you the concept of breakfast, a hearty meal full of proteins and carbohydrates to exploit the morning freshness 100% until life kills you in the evening.

    What kind of cockamamie problems bother nowaday "researchers"?

  • It can be stopped by a relaxed walk of 20-30 minutes per day. A lack of physical activity is the main cause of heart attacks. I think this is an accepted fact today.
    Nutrition does not seem to be too important, these studies rather seem to find symptoms of an unhealthy lifestyle. Kinda funny is: I lived in Germany for a long time, where people eat lots of salt and not so much fat. Regarding nutrition they are mostly worried about the fat they eat, thinking that it will block their arteries and lead to high
    • Someone who listens to their body will walk enough to avoid atherosclerosis, will sleep enough and will eat what is healthy. Someone with a difficult life won't have time to listen to their body, won't sleep enough, won't have time for breakfast or walking and so on. I would say that is how everything is related, and why all this links seems to be linked in studies.
  • With absolutely no information I boldly predict, if you dig through all the funding sources, you would find a breakfast food company funding this study.
  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Wednesday October 04, 2017 @09:06AM (#55307799)

    ... Denny's.

  • Last February, I committed to eating breakfast every day. By November, I had lost weight (44 lbs of fat!) felt healthier and better than I ever had.

    Other variables
    I stopped drinking alcohol
    My breakfast on weekdays: 2 hard boiled eggs, 10 baby carrots (Changed from pastries)
    My lunch on weekdays: turkey sandwich (Changed from burgers, tacos, soda, etc.)
    My dinner on weekdays: Home-cooked chicken, fish, or lean pork with a bunch of veggies and some rice or pasta. (Changed from "anything delivery")
    I had
    • So maybe running 8 miles a week had as much to do with your health as eating breakfast!

      I rarely eat breakfast, but I otherwise eat a reasonably healthy diet and get good exercise. I'm not overweight, my blood pressure is 120/70, my heart rate is 50, and otherwise enjoy good health.

      So for every individual example, there's a counter-example.

  • Those who breakfast are more chill than those who start the day off going 120%.

    Sounds plausible to me.

  • Food is actively repulsive to me until I've been awake and active for a few hours.

    So I guess I'm doomed.

  • Most people I know who eat a large breakfast get up earlier, and are usually more physically fit: They're eating breakfast then hitting the gym.
    Most people who don't are usually less active, rushing to work last minute ( strees..), and don't have time for breakfast.

  • Lack of morning appetite is a common hypothyroid symptom. (Incidentally, so are both insomnia and a need for more sleep than normal. See today's other discussion.)

    Arteriosclerosis is caused by calcium being pulled out of the blood and deposited where it doesn't belong (arteries, also joints). Which is caused by low thyroid. Which also causes poor protein metabolism and consequent flabby heart syndrome (ie. future heart failure), and high blood cholesterol (because it's not transported efficiently into the c

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