Men warned to keep eating breakfast which cuts the risk of developing diabetes

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UPDATED:

00:47 GMT, 7 April 2012

Men who regularly skip breakfast are more at risk of developing diabetes, scientists have found.

Their study discovered that missing out on food first thing in the morning increases a man’s chances of getting the disease by more than 20 per cent, compared with men who routinely eat when they get up.

It follows previous research suggesting that breakfast is crucial to maintaining good health.

Men who regularly eat breakfast are less likely to develop diabetes later in life

Men who regularly eat breakfast are less likely to develop diabetes later in life

The latest results, from a major investigation involving 30,000 men, provide the strongest evidence yet that it can reduce the risk of diabetes.

They show that even men who are not overweight and may have a reasonably healthy diet the rest of the time could still be at risk if they miss breakfast.

The findings emerged as part of a wide-ranging study being carried out into male health by researchers at Harvard School of Public Medicine in the United States.

They tracked the breakfast habits of 29,206 men over a 16-year period. None had diabetes at the start of the study.

The study – published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition – found that those who hardly ever had breakfast had a 21 per cent increase in risk compared with those who did.

And men who ate properly only once or
twice a day were 25 per cent more likely to get the condition than
those eating three meals.

In a report on their findings the
Harvard team said: ‘Having three main meals a day, including breakfast,
seems to be the optimal eating pattern for a decreased risk of type 2
diabetes.’

Research is needed to see if women are affected in the same way, they added.

Keeping a balanced diet and exercising also severely reduce a man's chances of developing the disease

Keeping a balanced diet and exercising also severely reduce a man's chances of developing the disease

Breakfast has been shown to reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein, the ‘bad’ cholesterol responsible for clogging up arteries around the heart.

People who do not eat first thing are also more likely to snack on sugary foods and less likely to exercise.

Dr Iain Frame, director of research at Diabetes UK, said the type of breakfast is also important.

‘While it is intuitive that eating three healthy balanced meals a day is good for your health, in this study it is not clear what is meant by breakfast or what it consists of.

‘As we know, there are various options – healthy and unhealthy – of what could be considered breakfast.

'We recommend a healthy balanced diet, rich in fruit and vegetables and low in sugar, salt and fat, which applies to breakfast and all other main meals.’

Diabetes is emerging as a major burden on the NHS, with around 2.5million Britons suffering from the condition. At the current rate of increase, the number will be around four million by 2025.

Around 90 per cent of cases – type 2 – are closely linked to unhealthy diet and lifestyle.

Around ten per cent of diabetes cases are type 1. This is thought to be caused by a malfunctioning immune system and has nothing to do with diet.