Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

Skipping Breakfast May Raise Diabetes Risk

Overweight women who ate morning meal had lower blood sugar, better insulin response in small study

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Kathleen Doheny

HealthDay Reporter

SUNDAY, June 16 (HealthDay News) -- Eating breakfast every day may help overweight women reduce their risk of diabetes, a small new study suggests.

When women skipped the morning meal, they experienced insulin resistance, a condition in which a person requires more insulin to bring their blood sugar into a normal range, explained lead researcher Dr. Elizabeth Thomas, an instructor of medicine at the University of Colorado.

This insulin resistance was short-term in the study, but when the condition is chronic, it is a risk factor for diabetes, Thomas said. She is due to present her findings this weekend at the Endocrine Society's annual meeting in San Francisco.

"Eating a healthy breakfast is probably beneficial," Thomas said. "It may not only help you control your weight but avoid diabetes."

Diabetes has been diagnosed in more than 18 million Americans, according to the American Diabetes Association. Most have type 2 diabetes, in which the body does not make enough insulin or does not use it effectively.

Excess weight is a risk factor for diabetes.

The new study included only nine women. Their average age was 29, and all were overweight or obese.

Thomas measured their levels of insulin and blood sugar on two different days after the women ate lunch. On one day, they had eaten breakfast; on the other day, they had skipped it.

Glucose levels normally rise after eating a meal, and that in turn triggers insulin production, which helps the cells take in the glucose and convert it to energy.

However, the women's insulin and glucose levels after lunch were much higher on the day they skipped breakfast than on the day they ate it.

On the day they did not eat breakfast, Thomas explained, "they required a higher level of insulin to handle the same meal."

"There was a 28 percent increase in the insulin response and a 12 percent increase in the glucose response after skipping breakfast," she said. That's a mild rise in glucose and a moderate rise in insulin, she noted.

Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

"Their study doesn't prove causation," said Dr. Joel Zonszein, a professor of clinical medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and director of the Clinical Diabetes Center at Montefiore Medical Center, in New York City.

The study found only a link or association between breakfast skipping and higher insulin levels. More research is needed for confirmation, another expert said.

"This is a small, but very interesting, study," said Dr. Ping Wang, director of the University of California, Irvine, Health Diabetes Center. "The findings will have to be verified with larger studies."

Whether the effect is short-term or long-term is not known, Wang said.

Zonszein recommends against either skipping meals or eating very frequent meals, the so-called nibbling diet. "Studies done in Europe have shown that a large meal in the middle of the day is better than a large meal at dinner," he said.

However, he acknowledged that pattern is more of a habit in Europe than in the United States. Even so, he advises his patients to eat a good breakfast, a good lunch and a lighter dinner.

Other ways to reduce diabetes risk, according to the American Diabetes Association, are to control weight, blood pressure and cholesterol and to be physically active.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Low
0-69
Normal
70-130
High
131+

Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
 
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
 
Woman serving fast food from window
Video
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Video
 
Middle aged person
Tool
are battery operated toothbrushes really better
Video
 

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Article
type 2 diabetes
Slideshow
 
food fitness planner
Tool
Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture
Article