Researchers in Sweden report a link between incidence of metabolic syndrome in adults and the kind of breakfasts those adults ate as children.

There is a lot of evidence that breakfast really is “the most important meal of the day.” Studies that Medical News Today reported on in 2013 alone suggested that eating a large breakfast could boost fertility for women with PCOS and lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes and blood pressure.

In addition, skipping breakfast has been said to increase the appeal of high-calorie foods later in the day. Some studies have even suggested that eating breakfast every day can help to lower body mass index (BMI), though other researchers have disputed this.

Metabolic syndrome is a collective term for a group of risk factors associated with heart disease, diabetes and stroke. A person is diagnosed as having metabolic syndrome if they have three or more of the following metabolic risk factors:

  • A large waistline
  • A high level of a type of fat in the blood called triglycerides
  • A low level of HDL cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • High fasting blood sugar.

In this study – conducted by researchers at Umeå University in Sweden and published in the journal Public Health Nutrition – a group of Swedish schoolchildren were asked questions about what they ate for breakfast. The children were followed up 27 years later when, as adults, they were checked for signs of any metabolic risk factors.

The study found that the people who did not eat breakfast (or who ate an insubstantial breakfast) as children were 68% more likely to have adulthood metabolic syndrome than their peers who ate substantial breakfasts.

Socioeconomic and lifestyle factors were taken into account by the researchers when they were assessing their results. The most obvious links the researchers found between poor breakfasts in youth and metabolic risk factors were in abdominal obesity and high levels of fasting blood sugar.

The main author of the study, Maria Wennberg, says:

Further studies are required for us to be able to understand the mechanisms involved in the connection between poor breakfast and metabolic syndrome, but our results and those of several previous studies suggest that a poor breakfast can have a negative effect on blood sugar regulation.”

Recently, Medical News Today reported on a study suggesting that mothers who use nicotine replacement therapy while pregnant could be putting their child at risk of metabolic syndrome.