breakfast workplace wellness

Employees Who Skip Breakfast Benefit from Well-Run Workplace Wellness?

How much more evidence do we need that skipping breakfast is bad? And what role can workplace wellness programs play in educating employees about the issue?

The American Heart Association previously offered a study titled “Meal Timing and Frequency: Implications for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association.” It provides actionable information for a well-run workplace wellness program and ways to help remind employees about healthy eating.

Additionally, the New York Times has written: “A recent review of the dietary patterns of 50,000 adults who are Seventh Day Adventists over seven years provides the latest evidence suggesting that we should front-load our calories early in the day to jump-start our metabolisms and prevent obesity, starting with a robust breakfast and tapering off to a smaller lunch and light supper, or no supper at all.”

That report was based a study titled “Meal Frequency and Timing Are Associated with Changes in Body Mass Index in Adventist Health Study.” Its conclusion: “Our results suggest that in relatively healthy adults, eating less frequently, no snacking, consuming breakfast, and eating the largest meal in the morning may be effective methods for preventing long-term weight gain. Eating breakfast and lunch 5-6 h apart and making the overnight fast last 18-19 h may be a useful practical strategy.”

Now MedPage Today reports: “Breakfast-Eaters Have Less Atherosclerosis: Skimpy, skipped breakfasts associated with plaque in Spanish study.”

The post states: “As opposed to eating large breakfasts, habitually skipping them was associated with more generalized atherosclerosis, independent of traditional and dietary cardiovascular risk factors.”

“Breakfast-skippers were more likely to have atherosclerosis in the abdominal aorta and carotid arteries, according to Valentin Fuster, MD, PhD, of Mount Sinai in New York City and Madrid’s Fundación Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares Carlos III, and colleagues in the October 10 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Wrote the authors: “The overall dietary pattern followed by skipping breakfast participants falls predominantly into our previously defined ‘social–business eating pattern’, with 45% of participants following this specific behavior. It is characterized by overall unhealthy food choices, frequent eating out, and busy schedules, which might shed light not only on the factors affecting the association between skipping breakfast and disease outcomes, but on the underlying reasons for this habit,” the authors suggested.”

But what role might a well-run workplace wellness program play in educating employees? The authors speculate that individuals who skip breakfast might have other unhealthy habits, meaning that in the always-challenging area of engaging employees, this could become an effective, even eye-opening discussion point.

The authors state: “In line with this cluster of behaviors, we hypothesize that aside from a direct association with cardiovascular risk factors, and atherosclerosis that deserves further research, skipping breakfast might serve as a marker for a general unhealthy diet or lifestyle, which in turn is associated with the development and progression of atherosclerosis.”