Little is known on skipping breakfast and a meal at school, especially considered together. The study identified nutrition knowledge-related, lifestyle (including diet quality, physical activity, and screen time) and socioeconomic correlates of skipping breakfast and a meal at school, considered together or alone and assessed the association of skipping these meals with adiposity markers in Polish teenagers. The sample consisted of 1566 fourth and fifth grade elementary school students (11–13 years). The study was designed as a cross-sectional study. Data related to the consumption of selected food items and meals, physical activity, screen time, sociodemographic factors, and nutrition knowledge (all self-reported) were collected (in 2015–2016) with a short form of a food frequency questionnaire. Respondents reported the usual consumption of breakfast (number of days/week) and a meal or any food eaten at school (number of school days/week) labelled as ‘a meal at school’. The measurements of body weight, height, and waist circumference were taken. BMI-for-age ≥25 kg/m2
was considered as a marker of overweight/obesity (general adiposity), while waist-to-height ratio ≥0.5 as a marker of central obesity (central adiposity). A multivariate logistic regression was applied to verify the association between variables. A total of 17.4% of teenagers frequently skipped breakfast (4–7 days/week), 12.9% frequently skipped a meal at school (3–5 school days/week), while 43.6% skipped both of these meals a few times a week. Predictors of skipping breakfast and/or a meal at school were female gender, age over 12 years, urban residence, lower family affluence, lower nutrition knowledge, higher screen time, and lower physical activity. In comparison to “never-skippers,” “frequent breakfast skippers” were more likely to be overweight/obese (odds ratio, OR 1.89; 95% confidence interval, 95%CI 1.38, 2.58) and centrally obese (OR 1.63; 95%CI 1.09, 2.44), while skippers a few times a week of both of these meals were more likely to be overweight/obese (OR 1.37; 95%CI 1.06, 1.78). Concluding, we estimated that a large percentage of Polish teenagers (approx. 44%) usually skipped both breakfast and a meal at school a few times a week. Similar predictors of skipping breakfast and predictors of skipping a meal at school were identified. Special attention should be paid to promoting shortening screen time and increasing physical activity and teenagers’ nutrition knowledge which are relatively easily modifiable correlates. The study shows that skipping both of these meals a few times a week was associated with general adiposity and also strengthens previous evidence showing the association of frequent skipping breakfast with general and central adiposity.
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