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Eating a big breakfast may be beneficial in diabetes

How big was your breakfast this morning? It may make a difference to your health, if you have type 2 diabetes, a small study suggests.

BMJ Group News

What do we know already?


Breakfast is often touted as the most important meal of the day, and it may be particularly important for people with type 2 diabetes. Earlier studies have suggested that people who regularly eat breakfast tend to have better control of their weight and the amount of sugar (glucose) in their blood - both important factors in managing diabetes.

In the new study, researchers wondered whether the size of a person’s breakfast might also be important. They recruited 59 adults with type 2 diabetes who were overweight or very overweight (obese). All the participants were put on a balanced, low- calorie diet. They were then randomly assigned to eat either a small breakfast (providing 12.5 percent of their daily energy), or a larger breakfast (providing 33 percent of their daily energy). Both breakfasts were described as being balanced, with the larger breakfast providing more protein and fat.

What does the new study say?

After 13 weeks, both groups had lower blood sugar levels and blood pressure than at the start of the study. But the decreases were largest for people who ate the bigger breakfast. Also, around 3 in 10 people eating the larger breakfast were able to decrease the dose of their diabetes medicines during the study. In contrast, nearly 2 in 10 people having the smaller breakfast needed to increase their dose. Perhaps unsurprisingly, people who ate a bigger breakfast reported feeling less hungry during the morning.

How reliable is the research?

These are intriguing findings, but we need to be cautious about how we interpret them for a couple of reasons.

First, this study was quite small. It included only 59 people, and 12 of these people dropped out before the end of the study. This means these findings are based on what happened to only 47 people - too small a group for drawing firm conclusions.

Second, this study was presented at a medical conference and has not been published in a medical journal. That means it hasn’t been checked by other doctors with knowledge of this area of research, and we can’t look at the study in detail. So, we can’t weigh up the reliability of the research in the same way we would for a published study. We also don’t know important details about the study, such as what foods the people ate, and how healthy the people were in other ways.

What does this mean for me?

Eating a healthy, well-balanced breakfast is important for everyone. If you have type 2 diabetes, these findings suggest that eating a large breakfast may be particularly helpful, but we need more research to confirm this. If you have questions about what you should eat for breakfast or other meals, your doctor or a dietician can help you make a food plan that suits you.

Published on September 27, 2013

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