Like mom always said, eat your breakfast.

It's not just a great way to give yourself the energy and nutrients you need for the day--it might just save your life.

A new study finds that people who skip breakfast are more likely to have the risk factors for heart disease. And if you've been skipping out on morning meals since childhood, well, it might already be too late for you.

But don't panic--not yet anyway--and I'll tell you why after I tell you about this new study.

Researchers looked at data from the Childhood Determinants of Adult Health study, in which 2,200 participants were surveyed in 1985--when they were between the ages of 9 and 15--and again 20 years later.

They found that 1,400 ate breakfast as kids and adults, while 515 started out eating breakfast, but skipped it when they got older. Another 224 skipped breakfast as kids, but ate it as adults, while 86 have pretty much spent their entire lives missing out (or at least sleeping in).

The researchers found that those who missed breakfast the most had waistlines 2 inches larger than the rest, higher insulin levels, and higher levels of both LDL ("bad") cholesterol and total cholesterol.

But it's hard to take the conclusions from this one too seriously. After all, it was based on two surveys taken 20 years apart, which is not exactly the best way to carry out science. And it merely looked at risk factors--not actual incidences of heart attack and stroke.

So, like I said earlier, don't panic if you haven't been eating a daily breakfast.

I'd be willing to bet that no breakfast at all is a heck of a lot healthier than the sugar-loaded carb-fests that many people choose every morning.

Talk about getting your day off to the wrong start!

One recent study on mice even found that rodents fed fatty breakfasts had better metabolisms than those fed high-carb meals in the mornings.

The carb-loaded mice ended up with the risk factors for metabolic syndrome, while the fat-fed mice consumed fewer calories throughout the day--almost certainly because those healthy fats helped keep them feeling full and satisfied.

So if you haven't been eating breakfast, now is a pretty good time to start. Just stick to bacon and eggs and avoid cereal and pancakes.