Regular family meals result in better eating habits for adolescents

March 09, 2009

Philadelphia, PA, March 9, 2009 - Good eating habits can result when families eat together. In the March/April 2009 issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, researchers from the School of Public Health, University of Minnesota report on one of the first studies to examine the long-term benefits of regular family meals for diet quality during the transition from early to middle adolescence. In general, the study found adolescents who participated in regular family meals reported more healthful diets and meal patterns compared to adolescents without regular family meals.

Data were drawn from Project EAT, a population-based, longitudinal study designed to examine socioenvironmental, personal, and behavioral determinants of dietary intake and weight status among an ethnically diverse sample of adolescents. Young adolescents completed classroom surveys and a questionnaire in 1998 and 1999 when they were about 12 to 13 years old (referred to as Time 1), and then completed a further round as middle adolescents five years later (Time 2). The study sample included 303 male and 374 female adolescents.

Regular family meals, defined as five or more meals together per week, declined over time. Sixty percent of youth had regular family meals during early adolescence compared to 30% during middle adolescence. Having regular family meals at both Time 1 and Time 2 was associated with greater frequency of consuming breakfast and dinner meals and increased intakes of vegetables, calcium-rich food, dietary fiber, and several nutrients including calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc five years later. An important finding is that although adolescents with regular family meals at both Time 1 and Time 2 had better diet quality, on average, overall dietary adequacy was not achieved for the entire study sample. These finding are consistent with current national consumption data that identified dietary intake of fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, potassium, magnesium, vitamin E, and dietary fiber as problematic for this age group.

Researcher Teri L. Burgess-Champoux, PhD, RD, LD, states, "These findings suggest that having regular family meals during the transition from early to middle adolescence positively impacts the development of healthful eating behaviors for youth. Findings from the current analysis, in conjunction with similar findings from a longitudinal analysis of older adolescents transitioning to young adulthood, strongly suggest that regular family meals have long-term nutritional benefits...The importance of incorporating shared mealtime experiences on a consistent basis during this key developmental period should be emphasized to parents, health care providers, and educators."
-end-
The article is "Are Family Meal Patterns Associated with Overall Diet Quality during the Transition from Early to Middle Adolescence?" by Teri L. Burgess-Champoux, PhD, RD, LD; Nicole Larson, PhD, MPH, RD; Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, PhD, MPH, RD; Peter J. Hannan, MStat; and Mary Story, PhD, RD. It appears in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, Volume 41, Issue 2 (March/April 2009) published by Elsevier.

Elsevier Health Sciences

Related Public Health Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 and the decolonization of Indigenous public health
Indigenous self-determination, leadership and knowledge have helped protect Indigenous communities in Canada during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and these principles should be incorporated into public health in future, argue the authors of a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) http://www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.200852.

Public health consequences of policing homelessness
In a new study examining homelessness, researchers find that policy such a lifestyle has massive public health implications, making sleeping on the street even MORE unhealthy.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic likely to cause long-term health problems, Yale School of Public Health finds
The coronavirus pandemic's life-altering effects are likely to result in lasting physical and mental health consequences for many people--particularly those from vulnerable populations--a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health finds.

The Lancet Public Health: US modelling study estimates impact of school closures for COVID-19 on US health-care workforce and associated mortality
US policymakers considering physical distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 face a difficult trade-off between closing schools to reduce transmission and new cases, and potential health-care worker absenteeism due to additional childcare needs that could ultimately increase mortality from COVID-19, according to new modelling research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Access to identification documents reflecting gender identity may improve trans mental health
Results from a survey of over 20,000 American trans adults suggest that having access to identification documents which reflect their identified gender helps to improve their mental health and may reduce suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Study estimates mental health impact of welfare reform, Universal Credit, in Great Britain
The 2013 Universal Credit welfare reform appears to have led to an increase in the prevalence of psychological distress among unemployed recipients, according to a nationally representative study following more than 52,000 working-age individuals from England, Wales, and Scotland over nine years between 2009-2018, published as part of an issue of The Lancet Public Health journal on income and health.

BU researchers: Pornography is not a 'public health crisis'
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have written an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health special February issue arguing against the claim that pornography is a public health crisis, and explaining why such a claim actually endangers the health of the public.

The Lancet Public Health: Ageism linked to poorer health in older people in England
Ageism may be linked with poorer health in older people in England, according to an observational study of over 7,500 people aged over 50 published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

Study: Public transportation use linked to better public health
Promoting robust public transportation systems may come with a bonus for public health -- lower obesity rates.

Read More: Public Health News and Public Health Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.