Researchers have found that young adults who skip breakfast are more likely to gain weight than those who do not. They also found that teenagers who miss the first meal of the day have an average higher waist compared to those who eat breakfast.
Researchers associated with the medical school of the University of São Paulo in Brazil and colleagues from institutions in Europe have suspected that skipping breakfast can lead to an unbalanced diet and other unhealthy habits that increase the likelihood of weight gain.
They investigated this hypothesis and found that skipping breakfast – a common habit among adolescents – was directly correlated with increased waist circumference and body mass index (BMI).
We have found that skipping a breakfast is associated with adolescent obesity markers, wherever they live and how much sleep they receive, whether they are men or women. "
Elsie Costa de Oliveira Forkert, epidemiologist and member of the research group on the risk of cardiovascular youth / children
Forkert thinks that the reason for this relationship is that children and adolescents who skip breakfast tend to replace a relatively healthy meal with home-made products, whole-grains and fruit, with fast food received from places on the way to or at school.
"This usually means consuming hyper-low-calorie industrialized products with low nutritional value, such as deep-fried snacks, cakes, sodas and other sugary drinks that are directly related to the development of obesity," he says.
The study analyzed data obtained from large cohort studies conducted in Brazil and European countries, including Austria, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Italy and Spain.
Data from the European study come from a study called "A healthy lifestyle in Europe through nutrition in adolescence", in which 3,528 adolescent men and women took part in ten major cities, from 12.5 to 17.5 years of age. status and religion.
Data for the Brazilian cohort comes from the "Brazilian youth cardiovascular health" questionnaire, in which 991 adolescents aged 14 to 18 participated. Because childhood obesity can promote the early development of health problems such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, these adolescents have been evaluated for cardiovascular risk factors and health-related behaviors.
Lead researcher Augusto Cesar Ferreira De Moraes (University of São Paulo) and his colleagues analyzed the weight, height and body mass index of teenagers (BMI) as indicators of overall obesity and waist circumference and waist to height ratio as abdominal obesity indicators.
Energy balance behaviors were evaluated using data from the questionnaire on physical activity levels, with 60 plus minutes per day of moderate or intensive exercise being considered adequate and less than considered insufficient.
Sitting behavior was considered in terms of time spent on computers, video games or watching television, and participants were asked about how long they slept during the week and on weekends.
Attitudes towards food choices, healthy eating and lifestyle were assessed using a questionnaire that included a question about breakfast, in which teenagers were asked to agree or disagree on a scale of 1 to 7 with the statement "I often skip breakfast."
Skipping breakfast was associated with a larger deck
As reported in the journal Scientific reportsscientists found that among all the analyzed behaviors related to energy balance, the strongest correlation was between the lack of the first meal during the day and the level of obesity markers.
The results of both studies showed that boys who left breakfast had larger waist circumferences than boys who ate breakfast.
"For boys who left breakfast, the average waist circumference was 2.61 cm bigger in Europe and 2.13 cm higher in Brazil than boys who usually ate breakfast," says Forkert. The same was true for European girls who had an average waist circumference, which increased by 1.97 cm, and the average waist to height ratio was higher by 0.02.
On the other hand, when scientists analyzed the relationship between sleep time and obesity markers, they found that the average BMI for boys who skipped breakfast was 1.29 kg / m² for European boys and 1.69 kg / m² higher for Brazilian boys, even when they got enough sleep.
Among European and Brazilian boys, skipping breakfast was a behavior related to energy balance, which most strongly correlated with obesity rates, such as increased BMI, waist circumference and waist to height ratio.
According to Forkert, this also applies to European girls: "Skipping breakfast correlated positively with total obesity and obesity, even when the sleep time was right."
In the Brazilian cohort, a sedentary lifestyle occurred more often among girls than among boys, while in the European cohort such behaviors were more frequent among boys.
Among European girls, sitting behaviors that occupied more than two hours a day were associated with an average waist circumference of 1.20 cm, even when sleep was considered sufficient
However, among Brazilian boys sleeping for less than eight hours a day had a protective effect against total obesity, which dropped by an average of 0.93 kg / m².
Forkert says that teens with more sedentary lifestyles that watch more television, use the computer more or play more video games, probably have an unbalanced diet and eat unhealthy food, although such behaviors have not been evaluated in the current study.
'Sitting behavior associated with relatively high calorie intake leads directly to obesity,' he emphasizes.
Forkert, E. C. O., et al. (2019). Skipping breakfast is associated with obesity markers, especially when the sleep time is appropriate for adolescents. Scientific reports. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-42859-7