Aim of the present study was to evaluate associations between lifestyle patterns, including dietary-related factors, and body mass index (BMI) in children and adolescents. In this study, 751 children (3–12 yrs) and 554 adolescents (13–18 yrs) were included. The sample was representative of the Greek population in terms of sex and age. Information on participants’ socio-demographic, dietary, anthropometric and physical activity characteristics were collected through telephone interviews. In children, BMI was significantly positively associated with age, energy density of the diet and fat intake and negatively associated with maternal and paternal education level, carbohydrate intake and breakfast consumption (all p values ⩽0.01). In adolescents, BMI was positively associated with age, energy density, low energy reporting and negatively associated with female sex, maternal and paternal education level, eating frequency, breakfast consumption and KIDMED score, an index evaluating adherence to Mediterranean diet (all p values ⩽0.05). When principal component analysis was applied for the identification of the participants’ lifestyle patterns, seven components were identified, explaining 85% of the total variance. In the total sample, multiple regression analysis revealed that, after adjusting for potential confounders (age, sex, parental education and low energy reporting), BMI was negatively associated with a lifestyle component characterized by high eating frequency, breakfast consumption and high KIDMED score (standardized beta coefficient = −0.118, p<0.001). Results of the present study revealed specific lifestyle factors associated with BMI, and also a lifestyle pattern including a combination of factors that may be intercorrelated and act synergistically in explaining overweight in young people.
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