Skipping breakfast could increase your risk of diabetes and heart disease, according to new research.
A study found that having a morning meal triggers the body’s fat cells to eat up sugar rather than store it.
The process could help regulate the hormone insulin, which controls blood sugar levels, and prevent the body from producing excess fat which commonly triggers diabetes and heart disease.
This research adds to the popular idea that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, as it has been found to decrease the risk of obesity, regulate metabolism and provide lasting energy to get you through the day.
Skipping the meal has been linked to atherosclerosis or the build-up of fats, cholesterol and plaque in the artery walls which can lead to various other conditions including heart disease.
And though not eating breakfast may be thought to induce weight loss, as promoted by British actress Joanna Lumley, the study published in the Journal of Physiology says otherwise.
The team in Bath and Nottingham, England, found that fat in obese people responds less to insulin than in lean people and the decrease related to the person’s total amount of body fat.
For six weeks, the researchers asked 49 adults, 29 lean and 20 obese, to either eat breakfast every day before 11am or fast until mid-day.
Participants in the breakfast group were asked to consume 350 calories within two hours of waking up and at least 700 calories by 11am each day.
The fasting group consumed no energy until midday.
Before and after the six weeks, the researchers measured metabolism, body composition, appetite responses and markers of metabolic and cardiovascular health.
They also measured the participants’ fat for the activity of 44 different genes and key proteins.
The team studied the ability of the fat cells to take up sugar in response to insulin and found that eating in the morning increased that ability.
Study lead author Doctor Javier Gonzalez, an assistant professor in Human Physiology at Bath University, said: ‘By better understanding how fat responds to what and when we eat, we can more precisely target those mechanisms.
‘We may be able to uncover new ways to prevent the negative consequences of having a large amount of body fat, even if we cannot get rid of it.’
One in three Americans will develop type 2 diabetes by 2050, according to projections by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And since 1996, the number of people living with diabetes has more than doubled in the UK.
Heart disease is still the leading cause of death in America and the UK.
Both of these diseases are commonly triggered by obesity and the findings provide insight on how to combat the effects of excess body fat.
Breakfast has been long-regarded as the most important meal of the day due to it being the initial source of energy when you first wake up.
The body’s blood sugar level is typically low in the morning and breakfast helps replenish it.
Without that initial fuel from food, you may feel depleted of energy and may be more likely to overeat later in the day.
Studies have found that the consumption of breakfast can lead to lower levels of bad cholesterol and lower the chances of being over weight, as well as promote better memory and concentration.
Gonzalez said: ‘Since participants ate high-carb breakfasts, we cannot necessarily extrapolate our findings to other types of breakfasts, particularly those with high protein content.
‘Our future studies will also explore how breakfast interacts with other lifestyle factors such as exercise.’