Skipping breakfast raises your risk of developing diabetes by a third, research shows.
Those who miss their morning meal are 33 per cent more likely to have type 2 diabetes, according to analysis of data from nearly 100,000 people.
And for someone who avoids breakfast at least four times a week, the risk is 55 per cent greater than it is for those who always eat in the morning.
Experts believe this is because people who do not eat breakfast are more likely to snack later in the day.
Researchers pooled the results of six previous studies exploring the impact of diet on diabetes – with a total of 96,000 participants.
Study leader Dr Sabrina Schlesinger, of the German Diabetes Centre in Düsseldorf, said 30 per cent of people around the world are thought to miss breakfast.
Ironically, those who are overweight are more likely to miss their morning meal, because they incorrectly believe this will reduce their overall calorie intake.
Scientists initially feared this may have skewed the results, because overweight people are far more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. But the team found that even when they took body mass into account, people of any weight were still 22 per cent more likely to develop diabetes if they missed out on breakfast.
Dr Schlesinger, whose findings are published in the Journal of Nutrition, said: ‘We believe people who miss breakfast have more snacks during the day and eat more calories overall.
‘They also might have a big lunch – and that creates a big glucose and insulin spike, which is not good for the metabolism and increases type 2 diabetes risk.’
She stressed that a breakfast high in wholegrains and cereals and low in red meat and sugar was the most likely to ward off the condition. Diabetes is the UK’s fastest growing health crisis, with the number of sufferers doubling in 20 years from 1.9million to 3.7million.
The problem is largely being driven by obesity. Some 90 per cent of diabetes sufferers have the type 2 form, which is linked to lifestyle and diet.
Two-thirds of adults and a third of children are now overweight – and the UK has the third highest obesity rate in Europe.
Libby Dowling, of Diabetes UK, said more research was needed to understand what other factors are behind the connection between skipping breakfast and type 2 diabetes, but added that ‘weight is the most significant modifiable risk factor’ for developing the condition.
Victoria Taylor, senior dietician at the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘It might feel like it saves calories, but missing breakfast has been previously linked to obesity and as this study suggests, an association with the risk of type 2 diabetes.
‘On busy mornings it can be easy to skip breakfast, but it’s important to make time for it.
‘Making a nutritious choice will help to keep you going until lunchtime, stopping you from reaching for sugary snacks. It will also help to increase the variety of nutrients in your diet.’