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Around four million people in the UK are currently living with diabetes with millions more thought to be at risk for the condition.
It is a serious, lifelong condition that causes blood sugar levels to become too high.
Type 2 diabetes is far more common than type 1, accounting for around 90 percent of cases.
Unlike type 1, for which the cause is unknown, type 2 diabetes is typically brought on by factors such as being overweight or not exercising enough – although it can run in families.
But now research has shown that the time of day you eat breakfast could also have an impact.
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A study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, revealed that people who ate breakfast after 9am had a 59 percent greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who ate breakfast before 8am.
Previous research has confirmed the association between an unhealthy diet and diabetes but not the link between when food is eaten and the condition.
First author of the study, Anna Palomar-Cros, said: “We know that meal timing plays a key role in regulating circadian rhythms and glucose and lipid control, but few studies have investigated the relationship between meal timing or fasting and type 2 diabetes.”
As part of the study researchers from France and Spain analysed data on 103,312 French adults to establish the link between meal frequency and timing and the incidence of type 2 diabetes.
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Participants completed online dietary records of what they ate and drank over a 24-hour period on three non-consecutive days, as well as the timing of their meals.
The team then averaged the dietary records for the first two years of follow-up and assessed the participants’ health over an average of seven years.
In this time there were 963 new cases of type 2 diabetes recorded.
Importantly, the risk of developing the disease was significantly higher in the group of people who regularly ate breakfast after 9 a.m., compared to those who ate breakfast before 8am.
Ms Palomar-Cros said: “Biologically, this makes sense, as skipping breakfast is known to affect glucose and lipid control, as well as insulin levels.
“This is consistent with two meta-analyses that conclude that skipping breakfast increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.”
They also determined a higher risk of type 2 diabetes among those who ate a late dinner – after 10pm.
Eating more frequently (around five times a day) was linked to lower risk of the condition.
Study co-author Manolis Kogevinas added: “Our results suggest that a first meal before 8am and a last meal before 7pm may help reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes.”
It comes as the same researchers from Spain had previously provided evidence on the association between an early dinner and a lower risk of breast or prostate cancer.
According to the NHS, ways to lower your risk of diabetes include:
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet
- Regular exercise
- Losing weight if you are overweight.
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