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Heart Disease, Breakfast and Late Night Eating

The Study
The authors of a prospective study recently published by the American Heart Association[1] followed almost 27,000 men for 16 years to see if eating breakfast had any impact on the likelihood of having a heart attack during the study period. The men ranged in age from 45 to 82 years and all were judged to be free of cardiovascular disease and cancer at the start of the study. The results were controlled for family history of CHD, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, BMI and diabetes. Though the patient data was self reported at regular intervals during the study, the heart attack incidents as well as other clinical factors were validated by medical record whenever possible.

The Results
After 16 years, though those who skipped breakfast were younger on average, they had a 33% increased risk of having had a heart attack during the 16 years of the study. Those that ate late at night had an even higher heart attack risk of 40% or higher.
All results were statistically significant. One weakness of the study is that the diet data is all self reported without certification, so it is possible that different participant s reported data slightly differently.

The Message for Busy Executives
This is some of the best evidence to date that eating breakfast every morning appears to have an impact on heart health, independent of body weight. It also revealed how eating late at night has as much or an even greater negative impact on the health of your heart. So the message is clear and simple… eat a healthy breakfast every morning and don’t pig out before bedtime.

James C. Lindberg, MD
Chief of Service
Hoag Executive Health