Skipping meals is particularly common during adolescence and can have a detrimental effect on multiple aspects of adolescent health. Understanding the correlates of meal-skipping behaviours is important for the design of nutrition interventions. The present study examined maternal and best friends’ influences on adolescent meal-skipping behaviours. Frequency of skipping breakfast, lunch and dinner was assessed using a Web-based survey completed by 3001 adolescent boys and girls from years 7 and 9 of secondary schools in Victoria, Australia. Perceived best friend and maternal meal skipping, modelling of healthy eating (eating healthy food, limiting junk food, eating fruit and vegetables) and weight watching were assessed. Best friend and maternal factors were differentially associated with meal-skipping behaviours. For example, boys and girls who perceived that their best friend often skipped meals were more likely to skip lunch (OR ¼ 2·01, 95% CI 1·33, 3·04 and OR ¼ 1·93, 95% CI 1·41, 2·65; P,0·001). Boys and girls who perceived that their mother often skipped meals were more likely to skip breakfast (OR ¼ 1·48, 95% CI 1·01, 2·15; P,0·05 and OR ¼ 1·93, 95% CI 1·42, 2·59; P,0·001) and lunch (OR ¼ 2·05, 95% CI 1·35, 3·12 and OR ¼ 2·02, 95% CI 1·43, 2·86; P,0·001). Educating adolescents on how to assess and interpret unhealthy eating behaviours that they observe from significant others may be one nutrition promotion strategy to reduce meal-skipping behaviour. The involvement of mothers may be particularly important in such efforts. Encouraging a peer subculture that promotes regular consumption of meals and educates adolescents on the detrimental impact of meal-skipping behaviour on health may also offer a promising nutrition promotion strategy.
Field of Research
111199 Nutrition and Dietetics not elsewhere classified
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