Experts say skipping breakfast occasionally can even raise your risk. Here’s some advice on what to eat.

Skipping breakfast can cause blood sugar and insulin levels to fluctuate. Getty Images

It’s commonly said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and new research shows why it’s so important to eat healthy in the morning.

German researchers conducted a review of existing studies and concluded that skipping breakfast — even occasionally — is associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The review looked at data from more than 96,000 people, spanning 6 separate studies.

The researchers found that skipping breakfast once a week is associated with a 6 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The numbers rose from there, with skipping breakfast 4 or 5 times per week leading to an increased risk of 55 percent.

The research was published in The Journal of Nutrition.

A nutritionist interviewed by Healthline says the data isn’t particularly surprising, and offered some tips for people who find it difficult to start their day with a hearty meal.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 90 to 95 percent of the 30 million people in the United States living with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.

While type 1 diabetes is less common and generally diagnosed early in life, type 2 diabetes typically develops in people over the age of 45. Risk factors include being overweight and physically inactive, along with genetics.

Doctors typically recommend lifestyle changes to avoid developing type 2 diabetes. And there are strategies for managing the disease for people who’ve already been diagnosed.

How breakfast helps

Given the link between type 2 diabetes, blood sugar, and insulin, it isn’t surprising to dietitians that skipping breakfast could also lead to an increased risk.

“Some small studies suggest that skipping the morning meal can actually lead to more insulin resistance,” said Jenna Freeman Scudder, RD, a dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center who focuses on helping people with diabetes. “Insulin resistance is a condition that requires more insulin to bring blood sugar into the normal range. And when it’s chronic, there’s a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes.”

Freeman Scudder said that omitting breakfast in the morning has also been associated with an increase in blood sugar following both lunch and dinner. This can put undue stress on the body as well as leading to poor dietary choices.

“Not breaking that fast after a night’s sleep can strain your body and its metabolism, and it can also lead to overeating,” she said. “It also makes unhealthy, high-calorie options more appealing.”

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