Background: Regular meal consumption is considered an important aspect of a healthy diet. While ample evidence shows social inequalities in breakfast skipping among adolescents, little is known about social inequalities in breakfast skipping and skipping of other meals among young school-aged children. Such information is crucial in targeting interventions aimed to promote a healthy diet in children. Methods: We examined data from 4704 ethnically diverse children participating in the Generation R Study, a population-based prospective cohort study in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Information on family socioeconomic position (SEP), ethnic background, and meal skipping behaviors was assessed by parent-reported questionnaire when the child was 6 years old. Multiple logistic regression analyses were performed to assess the associations of family SEP (educational level, household income, employment status, family composition) and ethnic background with meal skipping behaviors, using high SEP children and native Dutch children as reference groups. Results: Meal skipping prevalence ranged from 3% (dinner) to 11% (lunch). The prevalence of meal skipping was higher among low SEP children and ethnic minority children. Maternal educational level was independently associated with breakfast skipping ([low maternal educational level] OR: 2.21; 95% CI: 1.24,3.94). Paternal educational level was independently associated with lunch skipping ([low paternal educational level] OR: 1.53; 95% CI: 1.06,2.20) and dinner skipping ([mid-high paternal educational level] OR: 0.39; 95% CI: 0.20,0.76). Household income was independently associated with breakfast skipping ([low income] OR: 2.43, 95% CI: 1.40,4.22) and dinner skipping ([low income] OR: 2.44; 95% CI: 1.22,4.91). In general, ethnic minority children were more likely to skip breakfast, lunch, and dinner compared with native Dutch children. Adjustment for family SEP attenuated the associations of ethnic minority background with meal skipping behaviors considerably. Conclusion: Low SEP children and ethnic minority children are at an increased risk of breakfast, lunch, and dinner skipping compared with high SEP children and native Dutch children, respectively. Given these inequalities, interventions aimed to promote regular meal consumption, breakfast consumption in particular, should target children from low socioeconomic groups and ethnic minority children. More qualitative research to investigate the pathways underlying social inequalities in children's meal skipping behaviors is warranted.

Additional Metadata
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0134487, hdl.handle.net/1765/90773
Journal PLoS ONE
Citation
Wijtzes, A.I, Jansen, W, Jaddoe, V.W.V, Franco, O.H, Hofman, A, van Lenthe, F.J, & Raat, H. (2015). Social inequalities in young children's meal skipping behaviors: The Generation R Study. PLoS ONE, 10(7). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0134487