But are greasy eggs and lots of bacon really better than eating nothing? The researchers did not ask what the study participants ate for breakfast, and were not prepared to pass judgment on whether a fatty, sugary breakfast is better than no breakfast at all.
The new research was an observational study, so it's not designed to prove a cause and effect. But when done well, such studies can reveal important health risks. The researchers surveyed nearly 27,000 men about their eating habits in 1992. About 13 percent of them said they regularly skipped breakfast. They all were educated health professionals — like dentists and veterinarians — and were at least 45. Over the next 16 years, 1,527 suffered fatal or non-fatal heart attacks, including 171 who had said they regularly skipped breakfast.
In other words, over 7 percent of the men who skipped breakfast had heart attacks, compared to nearly 6 percent of those who ate breakfast. The researchers calculated the increased risk at 27 percent, taking into account other factors like smoking, drinking, diet and health problems like high blood pressure and obesity. As many as 18 percent of U.S. adults regularly skip breakfast, so the study could be important news for many, Rimm said. "It's a really simple message," he noted. "Breakfast is an important meal."