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
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
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.
To learn more about reducing diabetes risk, visit the
American Diabetes Association.
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