Associations of meal frequency and breakfast with obesity and metabolic syndrome traits in adolescents of Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986

A Jääskeläinen, U Schwab, M Kolehmainen, J Pirkola, M-R Järvelin, J Laitinen
Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases: NMCD 2013, 23 (10): 1002-9

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Breakfast consumption and meal frequencies have been linked to the risk of obesity in youth but their associations with metabolic syndrome (MetS) in young populations are yet to be studied. We examined associations of three meal patterns on weekdays--five meals including breakfast, ≤four meals including breakfast and ≤four meals without breakfast--with overweight/obesity and MetS components in Finnish adolescents.

METHODS AND RESULTS: A population-based sample of 16-year-old boys and girls (n = 6247) from the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986 was used. Adolescents were clinically examined and dietary data were collected using self-administered questionnaires. Overweight/obesity and MetS features were defined according to the International Obesity Task Force cut-offs and the International Diabetes Federation MetS paediatric criteria and their associations with meal patterns assessed using logistic regression, adjusted separately for early life factors (birth size, maternal health) and later childhood factors (health behaviours, weight status, parental education). After adjustment for early life factors, the adolescents who ate five meals/day were at lower risk for overweight/obesity (OR [95% CI] for boys: 0.47 [0.34, 0.65]; girls: 0.57 [0.41, 0.79]), abdominal obesity (OR [95% CI] for boys: 0.32 [0.22, 0.48]; girls: 0.54 [0.39, 0.75]) and hypertriglyceridaemia (boys only). Adjusting for later childhood factors, the five-meal-a-day pattern was associated with decreased odds of overweight/obesity (OR [95% CI] for boys: 0.41 [0.29, 0.58]; girls: 0.63 [0.45, 0.89]) and abdominal obesity in boys (OR 0.32, 95% CI 0.16, 0.63).

CONCLUSION: Among 16-year-olds, the five-meal-a-day pattern was robustly associated with reduced risks of overweight/obesity in both genders and abdominal obesity in boys.

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