To determine the prevalence and correlates of missing meals among adolescents.
The 2010 National Youth Physical Activity and Nutrition Study, a cross-sectional study.
A nationally representative sample of 11 429 high school students.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner consumption; demographics; measured and perceived weight status; physical activity and sedentary behaviors; and fruit, vegetable, milk, sugar-sweetened beverage, and fast-food intake.
Prevalence estimates for missing breakfast, lunch, or dinner on ≥1 day during the past 7 days were calculated. Associations between demographics and missing meals were tested. Associations of lifestyle and dietary behaviors with missing meals were examined using logistic regression controlling for sex, race/ethnicity, and grade.
In 2010, 63.1% of students missed breakfast, 38.2% missed lunch, and 23.3% missed dinner; the prevalence was highest among female and non-Hispanic black students. Being overweight/obese, perceiving oneself to be overweight, and video game/computer use were associated with increased risk of missing meals. Physical activity behaviors were associated with reduced risk of missing meals. Students who missed breakfast were less likely to eat fruits and vegetables and more likely to consume sugar-sweetened beverages and fast food.
Breakfast was the most frequently missed meal, and missing breakfast was associated with the greatest number of less healthy dietary practices. Intervention and education efforts might prioritize breakfast consumption.