Background: The long-term effects of skipping breakfast on cardiometabolic health are not well understood.
Objective: The objective was to examine longitudinal associations of breakfast skipping in childhood and adulthood with cardiometabolic risk factors in adulthood.
Design: In 1985, a national sample of 9-15-y-old Australian children reported whether they usually ate breakfast before school. During follow-up in 2004-2006, 2184 participants (26-36 y of age) completed a meal-frequency chart for the previous day. Skipping breakfast was defined as not eating between 0600 and 0900. Participants were classified into 4 groups: skipped breakfast in neither childhood nor adulthood (n = 1359), skipped breakfast only in childhood (n = 224), skipped breakfast only in adulthood (n = 515), and skipped breakfast in both childhood and adulthood (n = 86). Diet quality was assessed, waist circumference was measured, and blood samples were taken after a 12-h fast (n = 1730). Differences in mean waist circumference and blood glucose, insulin, and lipid concentrations were calculated by linear regression.
Results: After adjustment for age, sex, and sociodemographic and lifestyle factors, participants who skipped breakfast in both childhood and adulthood had a larger waist circumference (mean difference: 4.63 cm; 95% CI: 1.72, 7.53 cm) and higher fasting insulin (mean difference: 2.02 mU/L; 95% CI: 0.75, 3.29 mU/L), total cholesterol (mean difference: 0.40 mmol/L; 95% CI: 0.13, 0.68 mmol/L), and LDL cholesterol (mean difference: 0.40 mmol/L; 95% CI: 0.16, 0.64 mmol/L) concentrations than did those who ate breakfast at both time points. Additional adjustments for diet quality and waist circumference attenuated the associations with cardiometabolic variables, but the differences remained significant.
Conclusions: Skipping breakfast over a long period may have detrimental effects on cardiometabolic health. Promoting the benefits of eating breakfast could be a simple and important public health message.