Kapodistrian University of Athens: Study exposes impact of breakfast and sedentary lifestyle on cardiovascular health

A Greek study group made interesting remarks about the impact of breakfast meal and sedentary lifestyles on the build-up of plaque in our arteries and overall cardiovascular health levels. The research group was from the Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece and studied 2.000 people before reaching this conclusion. Still, the researchers did not specify the types of foods that are ideal for breakfast.

The study took place within the Peloponnesian region of Corinthia and the average age of the respondents was 63 years old. The respondents were dissociated into three teams specified by the approximate number of calories expended during breakfast. The three groups were high-energy (over 400 cals), low-energy (less than 400 cals) and breakfast skippers. According to most national health guidelines, average women need roughly 2.000 calories per day while men’s caloric needs reach 2.500. Of the 2.000 sample, 240 people reported high-energy breakfasts, 900 fell in the low-energy sector while 680 were breakfast skippers. Of the total number of the respondents, 180 chose not to disclose their breakfast preferences.

Respondents who participated in the low-energy group typically reported for breakfast coffee and low-fat milk with bread and butter, honey, olives and fruit. High-energy eaters reported instead quantities of cheese, dairy, cereals, bread and boiled eggs as the major sources of caloric intake. What was proven from health examination of the three groups was that, without taking into consideration other health complicating factors, high-eaters have healthier arteries than the counterparts falling in the other two groups. The study revealed that arterial stiffness reached 15% for breakfast skippers, 9.5% for low-mealers and 8.7% for heavy-eaters. Plaque deposits were also found in the carotid arteries of breakfast skippers with 28%. Low-eaters reached 26% while heavy-eaters only 18%.

The head author of the study, Dr. Sotirios Tsalamandris argued that:

‘A high-energy breakfast should be part of a healthy lifestyle. Eating a breakfast constituting more than 20% of the total daily caloric intake may be of equal or even greater importance than a person’s specific dietary pattern, such as whether they follow the Mediterranean diet, a low-fat diet or other dietary pattern.’

The same study also revealed health complications from sedentary lifestyles. People who watched TV more than 21 hours per week were more prone to suffer from high blood pressure (68%) and diabetes type 2 (50%). In this case, Dr. Tsalamandris reported that:

‘Our results emphasise the importance of avoiding prolonged periods of sedentary behaviour. These findings suggest a clear message to hit the off button on your TV and abandon your sofa. Even activities of low energy expenditure, such as socialising with friends or housekeeping activities, may have a substantial benefit to your health compared to time spent sitting and watching TV.’

The findings of the study undertaken by the Kapodistrian University of Athens will be presented by the end of March at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session to be held in New Orleans.

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