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Epidemiology

Breakfast skipping in prepubertal obese children: hormonal, metabolic and cognitive consequences

Abstract

Background and Aims:

Skipping breakfast influences cognitive performance. The aim of our study was to investigate the relationship between the variation of hormonal and metabolic postprandial parameters induced by breakfast consumption or fasting and cognitive performance in obese children.

Methods:

Cross-sectional study for repeated measures. Memory and attention assessment tests, hormones and nutrient oxidation were measured before and after consuming breakfast vs fasting in 10 prepubertal obese children.

Results:

Fasting induced a significant (P<0.05) increase of the Overall Index of the Continuous Performance Test II (a global index of inattention) and the Test of Memory and Learning Word Selective Reminding (a test of verbal memory), whereas no changes were found after breakfast. Fasting was associated with a reduction of insulin and an increase in glucagon, with no changes in glucose. The increase in inattention was associated with a reduction of carbohydrate oxidation (ρ=−0.66, P<0.05). We found no difference in the area under the curve of peptide YY and glucagon-like peptide-1 after breakfast or fasting, whereas Ghrelin was significantly lower. No association between postprandial hormone variation and cognitive performance was found.

Conclusions:

Attention and visual memory performance in the morning were reduced when the children skipped breakfast. No association was found with hormones or metabolic changes, but we did find an association with a reduction of carbohydrate oxidation. Nevertheless, these preliminary findings need confirmation in larger sample size.

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Acknowledgements

The study was sponsored by the Ministry of Health, Research Project of National Interest (PRIN) No. 2008CJ7CTW and supported by funds from the University of Verona and Galbusera Spa (I).

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Correspondence to C Maffeis.

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Competing interests

Dr Cortese has received financial support to attend medical meetings from Eli Lilly and Company (2007–9) and Shire Pharmaceuticals (2009–10), and has been a co-investigator in studies sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline (2006), Eli Lilly and Company (2007–8) and Genopharm (2008). He has served as a consultant for Shire Pharmaceuticals (2009–10). Dr Cortese is currently supported by a grant from the European Commission (‘Marie Curie’ grant for Career Development, Outgoing International Fellowship, POIF-253103). The other co-authors declare no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Contributors: CM designed and coordinated the study, submitted the study to the Ethical Committee, collected the data, performed the statistical analysis and wrote the manuscript. EF collected the data, provided data input, collaborated on the statistical analysis and the writing of the manuscript. MGS recruited the children, collected the data, provided data input and collaborated on the statistical analysis. EC participated in the design of the study, collected the data and provided data input. MC participated in the design of the study, carried out sample analysis and provided data input. MT participated in the design of the study and collected the data. IF participated in the design of the study and collected the data. SC designed the study, performed the statistical analysis and wrote the manuscript.

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Maffeis, C., Fornari, E., Surano, M. et al. Breakfast skipping in prepubertal obese children: hormonal, metabolic and cognitive consequences. Eur J Clin Nutr 66, 314–321 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/ejcn.2011.206

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/ejcn.2011.206

Keywords

  • children
  • obesity
  • hormones
  • nutrient balance
  • attention

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