Several studies have associated skipping (not having) breakfast with cardiometabolic risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, unfavorable lipid profiles, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. We examined the available evidence regarding the effect of skipping breakfast on cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, as well as all-cause mortality. Medline, Embase, and Web of Science were searched from inception until May 2019 to identify prospective cohort studies that examined the association between skipping breakfast and the risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality and all-cause death. Electronic searches were supplemented by manual screening of the references of retrieved studies. Out of 456 citations identified, four studies (from Japan and the US) were included. The included studies involved a total of 199,634 adults (aged ≥40 years; 48.5% female) without known cardiovascular disease (CVD) at baseline followed over a median duration of 17.4 years. The pooled data suggested that people who regularly skipped breakfast were about 21% more likely (hazard ratio (HR) 1.21, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.08–1.35; I2
= 17.3%, p
= 0.304) to experience incident CVD or die from it than people who regularly consumed breakfast. Also, the risk of all-cause death was 32% higher (HR 1.32, 95% CI 1.17–1.48; I2
= 7.6%, p
= 0.339) in people who regularly skipped breakfast than in people who regularly consumed breakfast. However, the definition of skipping breakfast was heterogenous and adjustment for confounders varied significantly. Therefore, residual confounding could not be ruled out and caution is required in the interpretation of the findings. Hence, large prospective studies with a consistent definition of skipping breakfast, and conducted across different populations, are needed to provide more robust evidence of the health effects of skipping breakfast.
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