Meal skipping linked to increased visceral adipose tissue and triglycerides in overweight minority youth


  • Disclosure: There are no identified financial conflicts of interest for any author in regards to this manuscript or its content.

    Author contributions: DSM, MW, JD, and MG designed and supervised the various research studies used in this analyses; DSM, MW, JD, MG obtained the funding; BH, JS, JD, LG, and LC analyzed data; BH and JD wrote the paper; All authors contributed to editing the manuscript; BH and JD had primary responsibility for the final content presented. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



To investigate the impact of eating frequency on dietary intake, physical activity (PA), metabolic, and adiposity measures in minority youth.


This analysis included 185 overweight (≥85th BMI percentile) Hispanic and African-American youth (8-18 years) with the following cross-sectional measures: height, weight, BMI, dietary intake, body composition, metabolic parameters, PA, visceral adipose tissue (VAT), and subcutaneous adipose tissue. Each eating occasion (EO) was defined as ≥50 calories and ≥15 minutes from any previous EO. Participants were dichotomized based on EOs per 24-h into meal skippers <3 EO (MS; n = 27) or normal/frequent eaters ≥3 EO (NFE; n = 158). ANCOVAs were used to assess dietary intakes, metabolic outcomes, adiposity, and PA between eating frequency groups.


MS compared to NFE consumed 24% fewer calories per 24-h (P ≤ 0.01), 21% more calories per EO (P ≤ 0.01), ate 40% less often (P ≤ 0.01), had 18% higher triglycerides (P = 0.03), and 26% more VAT (P = 0.03), with no differences in PA.


Although meal skipping was associated with decreased energy intake, it was linked to increased calories per EO and higher triglycerides and VAT, which are strong indicators of deleterious metabolic profiles. These findings elucidate that meal skipping may be associated with increased VAT and related metabolic diseases in high-risk minority youth.