The authors of a prospective study recently published by the American
Heart Association 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.
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