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Publication #FAR8101

Eating Pattern Affects Type 2 Diabetes Risk in Men1

Linda B. Bobroff2

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Type 2 diabetes rates continue to go up among adults and youth, increasing risk for serious and expensive health complications, such as heart disease, kidney failure, and blindness. One important risk factor for type 2 diabetes is being obese, so lifestyle choices that increase obesity risk, such as skipping breakfast, may also increase diabetes risk.

Recently, researchers reported the results of a long-term study of 29,000 men that examined how their food intake affected their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Eating habits were assessed every four years between 1992 and 2006. Family history, physical activity, smoking status, and other lifestyle factors were also reported. What the men chose to eat did affect their risk of developing diabetes. For instance, men who reported that they usually skipped breakfast had a 21% higher risk of type 2 diabetes than men who generally ate breakfast, and men who usually ate only one or two times a day had a 25% higher risk than men who ate three times a day (Mekary, Giovannucci, Willett, van Dam, & Hu, 2012).

We often hear that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and this study points to yet another reason to consume this morning meal, at least for men. Since the nutritional quality of the meal didn’t seem to affect diabetes risk, it seems that eating breakfast has metabolic effects that are unrelated to the meal’s quality. Still, a nutritious breakfast, including a whole-grain food, a fruit or vegetable, and a low-fat calcium source, such as fat-free or 1% milk, is a great choice for the entire family (Mekary, Giovannucci, Willett, van Dam, & Hu, 2012).

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Mekary, R. A., Giovannucci, E., Willett, W. C., van Dam, R. M., & Hu, F. B. (2012). Eating patterns and type 2 diabetes risk in men: Breakfast omission, eating frequency, and snacking. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 95, 1182–89.



This document is FAR8101 one of a series of the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension. Original broadcast date May 1, 2012, as program 1927. Published on EDIS April 2013. Reviewed May 2016. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at


Linda B. Bobroff, professor, Department of Family, Youth, and Community Sciences; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.