Lunchtime practices and problem behaviors among multiethnic urban youth

Tracy R. Nichols, Amanda S. Birnbaum, Kylie Bryant, Gilbert J. Botvin

1 Scopus citations


Research has begun to show associations between adolescents' mealtime practices and their engagement in problem behaviors. Few studies have addressed this longitudinally and/or examined lunchtime practices during the school day. This study tests for associations between urban multiethnic middle school students' (N = 1498) lunchtime practices in the sixth grade and their engagement in problem behaviors by eighth grade. Positive associations were found between not eating lunch at school in the sixth grade and increased drug use and delinquency by eighth grade. Eating lunch outside of school was found to be significantly associated with smoking and marijuana use only. Gender differences in associations between lunchtime practices and problem behaviors were suggested. Implications for school policy and prevention efforts are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)570-582
Number of pages13
JournalHealth Education and Behavior
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2009



  • Adolescents
  • School lunch
  • Substance use

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