Can Eating Breakfast Prevent Type 2 Diabetes?

I make it a habit to regularly ask about my patients’ dietary habits, and it sometimes surprises me how few of us regularly eat breakfast. We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and recently medical researchers have uncovered a long term health benefit behind the adage. Eating breakfast can decrease our chances of developing Type 2 diabetes.

In two studies, one done in me and another in women, researchers followed people’s eating patterns over decades.[1][2] They found people who regularly ate breakfast lowered their chances of developing Type 2 diabetes by over 30 percent. They found people decrease their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 5 percent for each day of the week they ate breakfast. Previous research in nutrition has shown that skipping even a single breakfast can cause insulin resistance, a distinctive feature of Type 2 diabetes, for the next meal.[3]

In another study, where their subjects were trying to lose weight by reducing calories, researchers found people who usually skipped breakfast and then started eating breakfast lost more weight than those who ate the same amount of calories in just two meals.[4] Though interestingly, if someone normally ate breakfast, they lost more weight if they then skipped it during the experiment. They also found that people who ate breakfast helped reduce snacking. Moral of the story, changing eating habits was predictive of losing weight in this study.

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