Study Links Weight Loss Attempts With Hardened Arteries

Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City recently investigated the health effects of skipping breakfast; they found that those who missed the meal often attempt weight loss through dieting. This same population proved most likely to experience atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries — even after other risk factors such as diet, exercise, and cholesterol levels were accounted for.

The study conducted questionnaires on 4,052 adults without a history of heart problems. The responses were separated into groups based on whether the participants skipped breakfast, ate a light breakfast, or consumed a full meal to start their day.

Just three percent of those interviewed skipped breakfast. When this group ate breakfast, they spent less than five minutes on the ordeal, settling for orange juice or coffee rather than an actual meal.

They tended to be male, to smoke, to have a higher waist circumference, and to identify as dieters; by far, these were the least healthy of the bunch. Researchers speculate (though the questionnaire did not confirm) that the oversight of breakfast was an attempt at losing weight — a feat they perhaps believed would make them healthier. Their attempt, however, had the opposite effect.

"Many overweight people who might be skipping breakfast or other meals in the hope of losing weight should keep in mind that studies have repeatedly shown that contrary to the commonly held belief, such habits can be associated with (weight gain)," said Dr. Prakash Deedwania, "and might lead to significant metabolic abnormalities including the increased risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes." In fact, many previous studies have linked weight cycling and weight loss dieting with poorer health outcomes including heart disease and earlier death.

And now, these weight loss attempts are linked with arterial damage. Which brings up the question: Which is really worse for your arteries, a McDonald's Egg McMuffin or no breakfast at all? Is America's problem really fast food and junk or is it the stigma surrounding weight?

If you're busy, fitting in time for breakfast can be hard. But to make it a little easier for you to start your day right, here are 25 healthy breakfasts you can take to-go.