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Breakfast consumption and CVD risk factors in European adolescents: the HELENA (Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence) Study

  • Lena Hallström (a1) (a2), Idoia Labayen (a2) (a3), Jonatan R Ruiz (a2), Emma Patterson (a2), Carine A Vereecken (a4) (a5), Christina Breidenassel (a6), Frédéric Gottrand (a7), Inge Huybrechts (a5), Yannis Manios (a8), Lorenza Mistura (a9), Kurt Widhalm (a10), Katerina Kondaki (a8), Luis A Moreno (a11) and Michael Sjöström (a2)...

To examine the association between breakfast consumption and CVD risk factors in European adolescents.


Cross-sectional. Breakfast consumption was assessed by the statement ‘I often skip breakfast’ and categorized into ‘consumer’, ‘occasional consumer’ and ‘skipper’. Blood pressure, weight, height, waist circumference, skinfold thickness, total cholesterol (TC), HDL cholesterol (HDL-C), LDL cholesterol (LDL-C), TAG, insulin and glucose were measured and BMI, TC:HDL-C, LDL-C:HDL-C and homeostasis model assessment–insulin resistance index (HOMA-IR) were calculated.


The European Union-funded HELENA (Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence) Study.


European adolescents, aged 12·50–17·49 years, from ten cities within the HELENA study (n 2929, n 925 with blood sample, 53 % females).


In males, significant differences across breakfast consumption category (‘consumer’, ‘occasional consumer’ and ‘skipper’) were seen for age, BMI, skinfold thickness, waist circumference, cardiorespiratory fitness, systolic and diastolic blood pressures, TC:HDL-C, LDL-C:HDL-C, glucose, insulin, HOMA-IR and LDL-C; in females, for cardiorespiratory fitness, skinfold thickness, BMI, insulin and HOMA-IR. In overweight/obese males significant differences were also seen for TC and LDL-C, whereas no differences were observed in non-overweight males or in females regardless of weight status.


Our findings among European adolescents confirm previous data indicating that adolescents who regularly consume breakfast have lower body fat content. The results also show that regular breakfast consumption is associated with higher cardiorespiratory fitness in adolescents, and with a healthier cardiovascular profile, especially in males. Eating breakfast regularly may also negate somewhat the effect of excess adiposity on TC and LDL-C, especially in male adolescents.

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