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Skipping Breakfast Increases Diabetes and Obesity Risks

By Dr. Gabe Mirkin, M.D.

Compared to those who eat breakfast up to three times a week, those who eat breakfast every day gained 4.2 pounds less weight over 18 years, and were less likely to suffer diabetes, abdominal obesity, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and high blood pressure (Diabetes Care, published online June 17, 2013).

People who skip breakfast:
  • have higher body fat, particularly belly fat, a major risk factor for diabetes and heart attacks (PLoS One, published online Mar 8, 2013;8(3).
  • suffer increased diabetes risk; the fatter they are, the more likely they are to suffer diabetes (Am J Clin Nutr, published online June 12, 2013).
  • are far less active throughout the day and eat more fat (J Am Diet Assoc. 2005 Sep;105(9):1373-82).
Definition of Insulin Resistance

Sugar cannot enter a cell, unless insulin is there to drive sugar into that cell. (The exception is that contracting muscles can draw sugar from the bloodstream without insulin). Before insulin can do its job of driving sugar into cells, it must first attach on specific hooks, called insulin receptors on the surface of cells. Anything that prevents insulin from attaching to its receptors will prevent insulin from doing its job of driving sugar into cells. Insulin resistance occurs when insulin cannot attach to its receptors. Then blood sugar levels rise to high levels that can damage every cell in the body. The vast majority of cases of diabetes occur when insulin cannot attach onto its receptors.

Also, high blood sugar levels cause the pancreas to release even more insulin and blood insulin levels rise higher and higher. High levels of insulin constrict arteries leading to the heart which can cause heart attacks.

Skipping Breakfast Causes Temporary Insulin Resistance

A paper presented at the annual meeting of The Endocrine Society (June 18, 2013) shows that overweight women are far more likely to develop insulin resistance several hours after they skip breakfast. Blood samples from overweight women who skipped breakfast had higher insulin and blood sugar levels after eating lunch, compared with the women who ate breakfast. This is a sign of temporary insulin resistance.

The higher levels of insulin caused by skipping breakfast causes:
  • increased hunger to make you eat more
  • increased body weight
  • higher blood sugar levels that damage cells and cause diabetes
  • big fat bellies because high insulin levels cause fat to be deposited in the belly

Health Breakfast
Health Breakfast - whole fruits and whole grain cereals

What You Should Eat for Breakfast

A healthful breakfast does NOT include many of the traditional breakfast foods. Avoid sugar-added drinks and foods; eat whole fruits instead of drinking fruit juices. Avoid processed meats such as bacon, ham or sausage, and other meat from mammals. Avoid fried foods and foods made with highly-processed grains such as pancakes, waffles or French toast, and many types of breakfast cereal. Oatmeal and other breakfast cereals made with whole grains, with no added sugars, rarely cause a high rise in blood sugar.

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