A Systematic Review of the Association of Skipping Breakfast with Weight and Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in Children and Adolescents. What Should We Better Investigate in the Future?

Nutrients. 2019;11(2)

Plain language summary

Childhood obesity is a major public health issue across the world. The incidence of skipping breakfast among children and adolescent is rising. Numerous studies have shown a positive relationship between skipping breakfast and overweight or obesity. The aim of the study was to analyse the association of skipping breakfast with body weight and metabolic outcomes in the paediatric population. The study is a systemic review focusing on studies published in the last ten years. 39 articles were included for analysis and data from a total of 286,804 children and adolescents were reported. The systemic review demonstrates that children and adolescents who skip breakfast are at higher risk to be or become overweight or obese. Authors conclude that skipping breakfast may be a potential marker of lifestyle behaviours in children and adolescents that promote overweight or obesity and metabolic diseases.


The incidence of skipping breakfast in pediatric subjects is rising, and a relationship with overweight (OW) and obesity (OB) has been shown. Associations with cardiovascular outcomes and skipping breakfast in adults have been reported. The purpose of this systematic review was to summarize the association of skipping breakfast with body weight and metabolic outcomes in the pediatric population. We searched relevant databases (2008⁻2018) and identified 56 articles, of which 39 were suitable to be included, basing on inclusion criteria (observational; defined breakfast skipping; weight and/or metabolic outcomes). Overall, 286,804 children and adolescents living in 33 countries were included. The definitions of OW/OB, skipping breakfast, and the nutrient assessment were highly heterogeneous. Confounding factors were reported infrequently. The prevalence of skipping breakfast ranged 10⁻30%, with an increasing trend in adolescents, mainly in girls. Skipping breakfast was associated with OW/OB in the 94.7% of the subjects. The lack of association was shown mainly in infants. Moreover, 16,130 subjects were investigated for cardiometabolic outcomes. Skipping breakfast was associated with a worse lipid profile, blood pressure levels, insulin-resistance, and metabolic syndrome. Five studies reported a lower quality dietary intake in breakfast skippers. This review supports skipping breakfast as an easy marker of the risk of OW/OB and metabolic diseases, whether or not it is directly involved in causality. We encourage intervention studies using standardized and generalizable indicators. Data on confounders, time of fasting, chronotypes, and nutrition quality are needed to establish the best practice for using it as a tool for assessing obesity risk.

Lifestyle medicine

Fundamental Clinical Imbalances : Hormonal ; Structural
Patient Centred Factors : Triggers/Skipping breakfast
Environmental Inputs : Diet ; Nutrients
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Nutrition
Functional Laboratory Testing : Not applicable

Methodological quality

Allocation concealment : Not applicable
Publication Type : Journal Article ; Review