Could a Good Breakfast Save You from Heart Disease?

Why skipping breakfast isn’t just bad news if you’re overweight

It’s possible that skipping breakfast may increase the risk of coronary heart disease, according to a new study, published recently in the peer-reviewed Journal, Circulation.

It’s long been said that breakfast may be the most important meal of the day in terms of keeping a healthy weight, and balanced energy, focus and concentration, but a new study shows that there may also be a reduced risk of heart disease.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health carried out a study over a period of sixteen years, on 26,902 male American dentists, optometrists, vets, podiatrists and pharmacists, aged between 45 and 82 years.

The researchers adjusted for dietary and demographic factors, and activity levels and found that:

  • Men who did not eat breakfast had a 27% higher risk of coronary heart disease than men who ate breakfast
  • Men who ate late at night had a 55% higher risk of coronary heart disease than those that didn’t
  • The researchers found no association between the frequency of eating and risk of coronary heart disease


In terms of possible mechanisms involved, the researchers speculated that regularly missing breakfast may disrupt both normal metabolism and circadian rhythms which could in theory increase the risk of coronary heart disease.

The study did not exclude certain other factors which may be responsible or contribute towards the findings. For example, it’s possible that a high proportion of the men who did not eat breakfast had such busy lives that no time was allowed to eat breakfast, and therefore stress (rather than lack of breakfast) may have contributed towards coronary heart disease. It could also mean that the men who did not eat breakfast, were tempted to eat unhealthy snacks before lunch.

What’s certain though, is that the health benefits of eating a balanced breakfast are wide and far-reaching – it appears to be a healthy habit to get into.


Cahill, LE, Chiueve SE et al. Prospective Study of Breakfast Eating and Incident Coronary Heart Disease in a Cohort of Male US Health Professionals. Circulation. Published online July 2013