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Why Breakfast Is Even More Important Than You Think

Need another reason to eat breakfast every day? Here’s one: diabetes.

Your mom was right. (As usual.) Most of us can recall our mother’s voice each morning, sternly reminding us to eat breakfast. After all, she would say, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Well, she might not have known just how right she was.

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Why Breakfast Is Even More Important Than You Think

Not only do we need energy to start the day, but researchers have learned that breakfast also affects our mood and our waistlines. Those of use who regularly skip breakfast are likely to gain more weight, mostly because we make it up later in the day by eating more.

RESEARCH: The Health Risks of Skipping Breakfast

The latest news is particularly unsettling. A study published earlier this year in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that individuals who regularly skip breakfast had a whopping 21 percent increased risk of developing diabetes.

Wow.  

The researchers, from Harvard’s School of Public Health, followed more than 29,000 men for 16 years, looking at their diets, exercise and various disease rates. None of the men had diabetes when the study began, but when the scientists zeroed in on eating habits, they found that the men who ate three meals a day were less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than men who only ate once or twice a day. This was true even if they had a higher BMI (Body Mass Index) and lower quality diets.

Although this particular study looked only at men, I was struck by the sheer number of individuals at risk for diabetes. Especially when we have simple, powerful solutions right at our fingertips—like a yummy breakfast!

MORE: Best (And Worst) Breakfasts

Sadly, with most of us rushing through our mornings—late to work, frantically packing school lunches and signing permission slips, worried about traffic—a leisurely breakfast feels like an elusive luxury.

Good news is, there are many easy ways to break the fast.  For example, it’s blueberry season. Blueberries are amazing for many reasons, not to mention how great they taste. They’re full of antioxidants, packed with nutrients and might even help you stave off osteoporosis by keeping your bones strong.

COLUMN: How to Clean Fruits and Vegetables

Throw them in the blender with some non-fat Greek yogurt (or soy yogurt or almond yogurt if vegan or lactose intolerant) and a little orange juice and agave. If you’re feeling up to it, add some wheat germ, too. Et voila, a quick and easy smoothie to drink while you’re racing around. Or perhaps you can take a few minutes to have some steel cut oatmeal with blueberries on top.  Or a handful as a sweet finish to an egg-white omelette.

If all of that isn’t enough to convince you, try this on for size. The National Weight Control Registry—a massive long-term evaluation of weight loss success stories, and a great source for wonderful research on weight control, diet and health—says that 78 percent of its members eat breakfast daily. Their average weight loss? A whopping 66 pounds.

MORE: Five Beautifying Smoothies

So set the alarm a little early, make time to enjoy breakfast with the family and watch your diabetes risk—and your waistline—shrink.

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