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Late breakfast linked with increased diabetes risk

  • November 18, 2023
  • 3 min read
Late breakfast linked with increased diabetes risk

Having breakfast after 9am is linked with an increased risk in developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 59% compared to those who have breakfast before 8am. This was the conclusion drawn by a study in which ISIGlobal, an institution supported by Catalonian non-profit the “la Caixa” Foundation, followed over 100,000 participants in a French cohort. The results showed that the risk of developing diabetes can be reduced not just by changing what we eat but when we eat it.

Type 2 diabetes is associated with modifiable risk factors including an unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, and smoking. However, now there seems to be another factor that plays a part in the onset of type 2 diabetes; the time we eat. We know that meal timing plays a key role in regulating circadian rhythms and glucose and lipid control, but few studies have investigated the relationship between meal timing or fasting and type 2 diabetes,” says Anna Palomar-Cros, ISGlobal researcher and first author of the study.

In this study, a team from ISIGlobal joined with a team from INSERM in France to investigate the link between meal frequency and timing and the incidence of type 2 diabetes among the 103,312 adults from the French NutriNet-Santé cohort. Participants, 79% of whom were women, filled in online dietary records of what they are and drank over a 24-hour period on 3 non-consecutive days, along with the timing of their meals. The team then averaged the dietary records for the first two years of follow-up, assessing the health of the participants over the following years.

There were 963 new cases of type 2 diabetes during the study. The risk of developing the disease was significantly higher among those who had breakfast after 9am compared with those who ate before 8am. “Biologically, this makes sense, as skipping breakfast is known to affect glucose and lipid control, as well as insulin levels,” explains Palomar-Cross. “This is consistent with two meta-analyses that conclude that skipping breakfast increases the risk of type 2 diabetes,” she adds.

The team also found that a late dinner, after 10pm, seemed to increase the risk, while eating more frequently, around five times a day, was linked with a drop in disease incidences. In contrast, prolonged fasting seems to only be beneficial if it is done by having an early breakfast and an early dinner.

“Our results suggest that a first meal before 8 am and a last meal before 7 pm may help reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes,” Manolis Kogevinas, ISGlobal researcher and co-author of the study concludes.

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