It looks like our moms were right about the importance of eating breakfast every day. According to a study published in the Sept. 2 PLOS Medicine, regularly eating the morning meal may help children lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The study, led by Dr. Angela Donin of St. George’s University of London, surveyed 4,116 primary school children in the United Kingdom who were 9 to 10 years of age. The children were questioned about how often and what they ate for breakfast. In addition, they underwent blood tests that measured such diabetes risk factors as fasting insulin, glucose, and glycated hemoglobin, which indicates the average measure of long-term blood glucose levels.
Donin and her colleagues found that the 26 percent of kids who reported they did not have breakfast every day were more likely to have higher fasting insulin, a risk factor for lower blood glucose levels. In addition, they were at risk for higher insulin resistance, a condition in which the body produces insulin but does not use it effectively. This group showed a slightly higher glycated hemoglobin.
The investigators also found that it was not just the frequency with which the children ate breakfast, but also the type of breakfast they ate that predicted the development of diabetes risk factors. Specifically, they found that children who ate cereals high in fiber had a lower insulin resistance than those who ate low-fiber cereals or other breakfast foods. Food high in fiber, they said, help keep blood sugar levels stable during the day because they keep people feeling fuller for longer periods of time.
Donin and her team concluded that “the observed associations suggest that regular breakfast consumption, particularly involving consumption of high-fiber cereal, could protect against the early development of type 2 diabetes risk, partly though not entirely through effects on adiposity (fat) levels.”
While acknowledging that more research is needed to determine if increasing kids’ breakfast consumption will lead to a reduction of type 2 diabetes risk, the study authors recommend that children eat a breakfast cereal with a high-fiber content.