Insulin resistance is a significant cross-point for the manifestation of several chronic diseases in children and adults. The aim of the present study was to investigate the possible relationship of certain dietary patterns and breakfast consumption habits with insulin resistance in children.A representative sample of 1912 schoolchildren (aged 9-13 years) participated in a cross-sectional epidemiological study, the Healthy Growth Study, which was initiated in May 2007 and completed in June 2009.It was conducted in seventy-seven primary schools in four large regions in Greece.Dietary intake, breakfast consumption, anthropometric and physical examination data, biochemical indices and socio-economic information collected from parents were assessed in all children. Principal components analysis was used to identify dietary patterns.A dietary pattern of increased consumption of margarine, sweets (candies, lollipops, jellies, traditional fruit in heavy syrup) and savoury snacks (chips, cheese puffs and not home-made popcorn) was associated with homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance index (HOMA-IR; β = 0·08, P < 0·001) in multivariate models. Children in the third tertile of this dietary pattern had a 2·51 (95 % CI 1·30, 4·90) times higher risk of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR > 3·16) than those in the first tertile. Breakfast consumption had an inverse correlation with insulin resistance, but the correlation lost its significance after adjustments for waist circumference, birth weight, parental BMI and socio-economic status.Increased consumption of margarine, sweets and savoury snacks, which is a common dietary pattern in childhood, was positively associated with insulin resistance, while breakfast consumption had an inverse association with HOMA-IR, in schoolchildren (aged 9-13 years). Identification of dietary behaviours that might affect insulin resistance in children offers valuable advice in cardiometabolic risk prevention strategies.