The link between breakfast skipping and overweigh/obesity in children and adolescents: a meta-analysis of observational studies

J Diabetes Metab Disord. 2019 Nov 28;18(2):657-664. doi: 10.1007/s40200-019-00446-7. eCollection 2019 Dec.


Purpose: Childhood overweight/ obesity is one of critical public health concern. It has been suggested that there is a link between breakfast skipping and obesity. However, results are conflicting. The aim of the present study was to summarize the association between breakfast skipping and overweight/obesity in children and adolescent.

Methods: We performed a literature search using Pubmed/Medline, Scopus, Web of Science and EMBASE electronic databases from 2000 through 28 February 2018 without language limitation. Observational studies in which risk measures were reported regarding the link between breakfast skipping and obesity in children and adolescent were included. Studies with at least the score of 5 from Newcastle-Ottawa Scale were considered as low risk of bias. Random effect model was used for data synthesis.

Results: Of 3276 publications, finally 16 studies (14 cross-sectional studies, 2 cohort studies) were included for meta-analysis. Based on cross-sectional studies, we found a positive association between breakfast skipping and obesity (Odd ratio (OR) trim & fill: 1.43; 95%CI: 1.32, 1.54), while cohort studies showed no significant link (OR:1.01, 95%CI: 0.93, 1.11; I2: 48%, p = 0.14). Subgroup analysis in cross-sectional studies showed that the association between breakfast skipping and the risk of obesity in boys was OR: 1.64; 95% CI: 1.38, 1.95; I2: 38.3%, p = 0.18, while it was 1.56 (95% CI: 1.38, 1.77, I2: 0.0%, p = 0.49) in girls.

Conclusion: The risk of obesity in children and adolescents who skipped breakfast was 43% greater than those who ate breakfast regularly in cross-sectional studies, while no significant link was found in cohort studies. However, due to high heterogeneity and limited cohort studies, findings should be interpreted by caution.

Keywords: Adolescent; Breakfast skipping; Child; Obesity.

Publication types

  • Review