Regularly skipping breakfast increases the risk of potentially deadly heart disease, research reveals.
It shows that leaving the house on an empty stomach leads to obesity, larger fat stores around the stomach and higher cholesterol levels – all major risk factors for heart disease.
It also triggers higher insulin levels in the blood, a warning sign that diabetes could soon set in.
The study showed the greatest risks are among adults who regularly went without breakfast when they were children and carried on the habit when they grew up.
Although previous studies have suggested breakfast can be good for the heart, this is the first to track the long-term dangers.
The results, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition-show that, by the time they are in their late twenties, those who rarely have breakfast as children or adults are already on the way to developing heart disease.
Scientists think one reason is they are more likely to snack on sugary foods and less likely to exercise while having a lower intake of fibre, vitamins and minerals.
But there is evidence that skipping breakfast can alter the way the body stores fat.
It can also leave people less likely to eat at typical mealtimes, said researchers at the University of Tasmania, who tracked 2,184 volunteers over 20 years.
Leading dietician Catherine Collins said missing breakfast was a ‘marker’ for an unhealthy or chaotic lifestyle.