Field Notes

Skipping Breakfast May Increase CVD Death Risk

Eating breakfast every day always has been considered an important part of a healthful lifestyle, but a new study from The University of Iowa shows just how important it is.

The study, by Wei Bao, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of epidemiology in The University of Iowa College of Public Health, finds that people who never ate breakfast had an 87% higher risk of death caused by CVD than people who ate breakfast every day. Published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, it supports the benefits of eating a daily breakfast in promoting heart health.

Bao says health care providers and dietary experts have known for years the importance of eating breakfast every day. But despite evidence that suggests skipping breakfast leads to increased risk of obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and other health complications, fewer people report they’re making the meal a part of their daily routine.

Bao says the new study is the first to evaluate breakfast’s impact on the risk of cardiovascular death. Researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and from 6,550 Americans aged 40 to 75 gathered between 1988 and 1994 who were asked how often they ate breakfast.

Among them, 5.1% reported never eating breakfast, 10.9% said they rarely ate breakfast, 25% said they ate breakfast some days, and 59% said they ate breakfast every day. Analysis found that those participants who never ate breakfast were 87% more likely to die from CVD and stroke than those who ate breakfast every day, after accounting for demographic, socioeconomic, dietary, lifestyle, BMI, and cardiovascular risk factors.

Bao says skipping breakfast was associated with elevated blood pressure and changes in appetite so a person doesn’t feel full and overeats later in the day. It also leads to harmful changes in lipid levels, such as higher levels of total and LDL cholesterol.

He says skipping breakfast also was a behavioral marker for unhealthful lifestyle habits, as those who never ate breakfast were more likely to be overweight, heavy drinkers, former smokers, and physically inactive, and have high cholesterol, lower incomes, and poor diet quality. These markers also can lead to increased risk of CVD.

But even after adjusting for those lifestyle factors, the authors note a significant association between skipping breakfast and cardiovascular mortality.

— Source: The University of Iowa


Study Finds Link Between Burnout and Weight Gain

A new study from the University of Georgia has found that feeling overworked contributes to a variety of unhealthful behaviors that can cause weight gain.

Results from the study published in the Journal of Health Psychology point to the role work stress can play in our ability to adopt the necessary strategies to maintain a healthy weight.

“We have so many things coming at us every day, and we only have so much energy,” says lead author Heather Padilla, PhD, an assistant professor of health promotion and behavior and researcher in the workplace health group at University of Georgia’s College of Public Health. “When our energy gets used up, we don’t have the energy to make ideal decisions about what we eat.”

Despite the growing presence of workplace-based wellness and weight management programs, more than two-thirds of working adults are overweight or obese.

Most worksite programs focus on things such as nutrition education, access to healthful foods, or access to a gym. Job demands are rarely, if ever, incorporated into weight loss interventions.

Padilla and her colleagues began to wonder whether work stresses might be depleting the mental and physical energy employees need to make changes to their diets or fit in a workout. So, she decided to look at how workload and burnout impact a person’s nutrition and physical activity choices.

The researchers recruited 1,000 men and women working full-time jobs to answer questions about their workloads and exhaustion or burnout. They also were asked to report their eating and exercise habits.

The results of their analysis showed that employees with heavier workloads were more likely to emotionally eat, eat without stopping, and reach for fattier foods, and those who were burned out tended to do the same and exercise less.

“Anecdotally, the findings aren’t shocking,” Padilla says, adding that they do point to a greater need to understand how job demands affect issues such as obesity.

“We spend so many of our waking hours at work,” she says. “These findings require us to think about how our work affects our health behaviors and self-care.”

— Source: University of Georgia