Self Care Pharmacy Blog

Posts Tagged ‘weight loss’


Skipping Breakfast: Do the Benefits “Outweigh” the Risks?

Friday, October 16th, 2015

By Vineeta Rao, PharmD Student Cedarville University

You have heard the concept all over the news and social media: Skipping breakfast leads to weight gain. Nutritionists and researchers have long speculated that when one skips breakfast, his hunger and lack of energy will cause a rebound-effect in which he will consume more calories by snacking than he would have if he had eaten breakfast.2 But a recent study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that when men and women skip breakfast, they actually consume far fewer calories compared to the days when they do eat breakfast.1


In this traditional crossover study, participants were allowed to eat as they pleased and report their own eating habits to the study investigators. Investigators consulted the same patients on various occasions to obtain a report of how many meals they had eaten, what they had eaten for each meal, and what time of day they had eaten. Then, investigators examined each person’s data individually; they compared the participant’s calorie intake on the days when he or she ate breakfast to a day when he or she did not eat breakfast. Researchers also included any snacking between meals in the total calorie count. On average, men in the study consumed 247 kcal more on a breakfast day than a non-breakfast day, and women consumed 187 kcal more on a breakfast day than on a non-breakfast day.1 Apparently, snacking was not enough to make up the calories lost from skipping breakfast! If participants regularly ate a few hundred fewer calories a day, then over time, breakfast skipping actually led to weight loss rather than weight gain.

Overall, the participant’s choices in food were similar between breakfast days and non-breakfast days, with breakfast days containing more whole grains, fruits, and dairy.1 One limitation of this study is that participants reported their own diet choices.1 Thus, if a patient forgot to report a snack item, the calorie deficit calculated above would not be correct. Additionally, participants tend to change their food choices when they know that they are being monitored.

Researchers all over the world cannot seem to agree on this matter. Skipping breakfast goes against the current standard of care, but it shows compelling evidence that it may actually assist in weight loss. Although many researchers have suspected that skipping breakfast will cause people to snack more frequently and to choose unhealthy snacks that lead to weight gain, very few research studies have shown this to be true. For example, one study that expected this to be true examined the effects of skipping breakfast in children in Taiwan and did not find any connections between skipping breakfast and obesity.2

So, does this mean that we should encourage breakfast skipping as a weight-loss strategy? An editorial response to this research study says yes! Because obesity and weight gain is associated with risks for chronic diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke, getting rid of this small but significant calorie intake could help to prevent such diseases.3

However, other researchers are not convinced. The study in Taiwanese children found that breakfast-skipping may not be suitable for all people. For example, this study found that children who ate breakfast regularly had better cognitive ability and academic performance than children who did not eat breakfast regularly.2

Additionally, some research studies have shown that skipping breakfast can actually increase the risk of developing Type II diabetes by decreasing insulin tolerance and raising blood sugar. When three universities in China examined the risk factors that lead to Type II diabetic patients’ condition, they found skipping breakfast was associated with an increased risk for the disease.4

So what can we learn from all these findings? In short, skipping breakfast does not appear to lead to weight gain, but the current research on other health risks and benefits of skipping breakfast is controversial. You most likely won’t have to worry about gaining weight from missing breakfast now and then due to a busy schedule, but the research is too gray to conclude that skipping breakfast is safe and healthy for everyone. One fact that remains true across all these studies is that the quality of the food you eat matters. Whether you eat breakfast or not, it is important to eat a balanced diet with whole foods, good sources of protein, and a focus on non-starchy vegetables. Nutrient-rich diets are important in healthy weight management and prevention of disease states.5

What do you think? Does the benefit of weight loss “outweigh” the possibility of potentially contributing to the development of chronic diseases?


  1. Kant AK, Graubard BI. Within-person comparison of eating behaviors, time of eating, and dietary intake on days with and without breakfast: NHANES 2005-2010. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015;102(3):661-70.
  2. Ho C, Huang Y, Lo YC, Wahlqvist ML, Lee M. Breakfast is associated with the metabolic syndrome and school performance among taiwanese children. Res Dev Disabil. 2015;43–44:179-188.
  3. Levitsky DA. Breaking the feast. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015;102(3):531-2.
  4. Bi H, Gan Y, Yang C, Chen Y, Tong X, Lu Z. Breakfast skipping and the risk of type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis of observational studies. Public Health Nutr. 2015:1-7.
  5. United States Department of Agriculture. Scientific Report of Dietary Guidelines 2015 Advisory Committee. <>

Yet Another Reason to Lose that Excess Weight

Monday, October 27th, 2014

By Courtney Noll, PharmD Student

An individual’s blood glucose levels assist in controlling the secretions of two major regulatory hormones in the body: Insulin and glucagon. Insulin works to bring down levels of glucose in the blood when they have risen too high, and glucagon works to raise the blood glucose levels when they have fallen too low. A significant problem that many individuals are developing is the condition of insulin resistance. This issue is caused by obesity, sedentary lifestyles, poor eating habits, and genetics etc. This physiological condition occurs when cells fail to respond to the normal effects of insulin. In some cases insulin is created in less than sufficient quantities in the body, and in other cases, the human body fails to use the hormone effectively.  As of now there is no specific medication approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of insulin resistance, outside of diagnosis and treatment of diabetes, and the best form of conventional treatment is found to be weight loss and exercise. Smoking is also found to increase insulin resistance, and quitting the habit will contribute to an individual’s conventional treatment of the issue. Insulin resistance plays a significant role in the development of other serious medical conditions as well, including obesity, hypertension, type II diabetes, dyslipidemia (abnormal amount of lipids in the blood), and cardiovascular (heart) disease.1

A recent study was performed in order to evaluate the effects of weight loss on insulin resistance as well as other plasma and tissue markers of systemic and vascular inflammation. This was a prospective controlled study using 77 overweight and obese sedentary postmenopausal women. These women were split into 2 groups where 37 of the participants met 3 times a week and engaged in aerobic exercise and the remaining 40 participants did no aerobic exercising. This study used a state-of-the-art technique to measure insulin sensitivity, body composition, inflammatory biomarkers, and vascular adhesion molecules and carefully conducted weight loss and exercise regimes.2 In looking back at the results, evidence is shown that the markers that were measured and the level of insulin resistance was noticeably higher with a higher level of obesity.2 As the study progressed, it was also noticeable that with combined weight loss and aerobic exercise, the levels of insulin resistance and the other markers measured, also significantly decreased. Unfortunately, there were two limitations that came into play during this study. First of all, the study was done only in postmenopausal women and second, there was no nonintervention control group.2 By performing this study in exclusively postmenopausal women, the results cannot be applied accurately to different populations and/or groups of individuals.

This study may have had limitations, but it was not the only study showing the relationship between weight loss and reduced insulin resistance. In fact, there was no study that I found showing any opposing views or conflicting data. Another study showed the effects of weight loss on insulin resistance in adolescents and found that, weight loss at month 4 was associated with improved insulin sensitivity in obese adolescents.3 Another study published recently, was looking at the effects of weight loss, with and without exercise, on the measurements of blood pressure, blood glucose, and insulin resistance and found that: A reduction of 7% of the initial body weight, in overweight patients, improves systolic blood pressure, plasma glucose, and insulin resistance.4  Thirdly, another study found that using surrogate markers for insulin sensitivity, authors of the Diabetes Prevention Program showed that at one year, improvement in insulin sensitivity predicted lower risk for diabetes three years later.5

Study after study 6,7 shows the benefits of weight loss on various health measurements, but specifically focuses on insulin resistance. In my opinion, losing weight can be one of the most beneficial health choices an overweight individual can choose to accomplish. There are many rewarding diets and workout regimens that individuals have found to be successful. In addition, a gym membership and a simple 3 days per week attendance could be the start to a great beginning for any overweight individual. By decreasing their weight and, essentially decreasing insulin resistance, an individual will decrease their risk of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, and cardiovascular disease. With the positive effects of losing weight on insulin resistance, what is weight loss worth to you?



  1. Reviews CT. Studyguide for Principles of Anatomy and Physiology by Gerard J. Tortora, Isbn 9780470565100. Academic Internet Publishers; 2012.
  2. Ryan A, Ge S, Blumenthal J, Serra M, Prior S, Goldberg A. Aerobic Exercise and Weight Loss Reduce Vascular Markers of Inflammation and Improve Insulin Sensitivity in Obese Women. Journal Of The American Geriatrics Society [serial online]. April 2014;62(4):607-614. Available from: CINAHL Plus with Full Text, Ipswich, MA. Accessed September 23, 2014.
  3.  Abrams P, Levitt Katz L, Berkowitz R, et al. Threshold for improvement in insulin sensitivity with adolescent weight loss. Journal Of Pediatrics [serial online]. September 2013;163(3):785-790. Available from: CINAHL Plus with Full Text, Ipswich, MA. Accessed September 23, 2014.
  4.  Trussardi Fayh A, Lopes A, Fernandes P, Reischak-Oliveira A, Friedman R. Impact of weight loss with or without exercise on abdominal fat and insulin resistance in obese individuals: a randomised clinical trial. British Journal Of Nutrition [serial online]. August 28, 2013;110(3):486-492. Available from: CINAHL Plus with Full Text, Ipswich, MA. Accessed September 23, 2014.
  5.  McLaughlin T, Schweitzer P, Reaven G, et al. Persistence of improvement in insulin sensitivity following a dietary weight loss programme. Diabetes, Obesity & Metabolism [serial online]. December 2008;10(12):1186-1194. Available from: MEDLINE with Full Text, Ipswich, MA. Accessed September 24, 2014.
  6.  Ling Chun K, Wuillemin P, Rizkalla S, et al. Insulin resistance and inflammation predict kinetic body weight changes in response to dietary weight loss and maintenance in overweight and obese subjects by using a Bayesian network approach. American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition [serial online]. December 2013;98(6):1385-1394. Available from: CINAHL Plus with Full Text, Ipswich, MA. Accessed September 23, 2014.
  7.   Calleja Fernández A, Vidal Casariego A, Cano Rodríguez I, Ballesteros Pomar M. One-year effectiveness of two hypocaloric diets with different protein/carbohydrate ratios in weight loss and insulin resistance. Nutricion Hospitalaria [serial online]. December 2012;27(6):2093-2101. Available from: CINAHL Plus with Full Text, Ipswich, MA. Accessed September 23, 2014.