Moms have a new weapon in the Breakfast Wars: Eat now or you’ll be sorry when you’re (kind of) old.
A new study based on 27 years of regular follow-up exams determined that teens who skip breakfast – or who fill up on sweets every morning – are almost twice as likely to have metabolic syndrome at age 43 than are those who chow down in the morning, according to Maria Wennberg of Umeå (Sweden) University and her colleagues (Public Health Nutr. 2014 Jan. 28 [doi:10.1017/S1368980013003509]).
The findings are from the Northern Swedish Cohort, which is a 27-year prospective study of more than 1,000 subjects – the breakfast study included 889 of these. All were in the ninth grade when they enrolled. Since then, they’ve had interviews and full medical exams at ages 18, 21, 30, and 43 years.
At 16, the kids were asked, "What did you have for breakfast?" Skippers had nothing (66). Another 22 said that they only had a sweet drink or treat, like a bun or cookie. The others reported consuming something that at least approached healthy: eggs, meat, or fish; milk products; cereal or dark bread; fruit or vegetables.
When these youngsters reached the ripe old age of 43 years, they underwent a detailed physical exam that included weight, height, and girth measures; blood pressure; and a lipid profile. They also answered lifestyle questions. More than a quarter (27%) had metabolic syndrome. Men were more likely to have it than women (34% vs. 19%).
Compared with the breakfast-eaters, the skippers and sweets-eaters had significantly higher alcohol and tobacco intake and exercised significantly less. Their levels of central obesity, triglycerides, and fasting glucose were higher, as was blood pressure. In the unadjusted analysis, they were more than twice as likely to have metabolic syndrome (odds ratio, 2.25).
The adjusted analysis controlled for gender, smoking and alcohol, exercise, and family history of diabetes, but even then the breakfast-averse were still significantly more likely to have adult metabolic syndrome (odds ratio, 1.68).
Better habits in adulthood, like exercising and eating lots of fruits and veggies, eliminated the increased risk. So the good news – in this study at least – is that bad-breakfasters are not always irredeemable.
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