Advertisement

Family Dinner: More than Just a Meal

      Recent research has focused on family meals, specifically dinner, as an opportunity to improve diet and the health of both children and adolescents. A handful of investigators have provided the basic research that has brought family dinner into the forefront of prescriptions for healthy diets of families. Gillman and colleagues (
      • Gillman M.W.
      • Rifas-Shiman S.L.
      • Frazier A.L.
      • Rockett H.R.
      • Camargo Jr, C.A.
      • Field A.E.
      • Berkey C.S.
      • Colditz G.A.
      Family dinner and diet quality among older children and adolescents.
      ) and Neumark-Sztainer and colleagues (
      • Neumark-Sztainer D.
      • Hannan P.J.
      • Story M.
      • Croll J.
      • Perry C.
      Family meal patterns: Associations with sociodemographic characteristics and improved dietary intake among adolescents.
      ) analyzed diets of boys and girls and both found an association of frequency of family dinner and healthful diets. Taveras and colleagues (
      • Taveras E.M.
      • Rifas-Shiman S.L.
      • Berkey C.S.
      • Rockett H.R.H.
      • Field A.E.
      • Frazier A.L.
      • Colditz G.A.
      • Gillman M.W.
      Family dinner and adolescent overweight.
      ) then examined data for associations of family dinner with overweight status (body mass index >85th percentile for age and sex based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standards). An inverse association with the cross-sectional analysis was found, but the longitudinal analysis was null (
      • Taveras E.M.
      • Rifas-Shiman S.L.
      • Berkey C.S.
      • Rockett H.R.H.
      • Field A.E.
      • Frazier A.L.
      • Colditz G.A.
      • Gillman M.W.
      Family dinner and adolescent overweight.
      ). In the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, Sen (
      • Sen B.
      Frequency of family dinner and adolescent body weight status: Evidence from the national longitudinal survey of youth, 1997.
      ) found an association among white participants between frequency of family dinner and overweight status; however, no such association was found among African Americans or Hispanics. In addition, Fulkerson and colleagues (
      • Fulkerson J.A.
      • Story M.
      • Mellin A.
      • Leffert N.
      • Neumark-Sztainer D.
      • French S.A.
      Family dinner meal frequency and adolescent development: Relationships with developmental assets and high-risk behaviors.
      ) surveyed almost 100,000 students (6th to 12th grades [ages 11 to 19 years], 86% white) across the United States and found a consistent positive association between frequency of family dinner and developmental assets (family support, peer influence, boundaries, and expectations) and an inverse association with high-risk behaviors. In a survey of participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children regarding family meals and their environment, there was the suggestion that television viewing during dinner could undo the positive effects of sitting down with family (
      • Fitzpatrick E.
      • Edmunds L.S.
      • Dennison B.A.
      Positive effects of family dinner are undone by television viewing.
      ). Family dinner may be one of the buffer systems that help parents to guide children and adolescents through the world’s many unhealthful situations, but a review of the specifics is necessary before making recommendations.
      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'

      Subscribe:

      Subscribe to Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect

      References

        • Gillman M.W.
        • Rifas-Shiman S.L.
        • Frazier A.L.
        • Rockett H.R.
        • Camargo Jr, C.A.
        • Field A.E.
        • Berkey C.S.
        • Colditz G.A.
        Family dinner and diet quality among older children and adolescents.
        Arch Fam Med. 2000; 9: 235-240
        • Neumark-Sztainer D.
        • Hannan P.J.
        • Story M.
        • Croll J.
        • Perry C.
        Family meal patterns: Associations with sociodemographic characteristics and improved dietary intake among adolescents.
        J Am Diet Assoc. 2003; 103: 317-322
        • Taveras E.M.
        • Rifas-Shiman S.L.
        • Berkey C.S.
        • Rockett H.R.H.
        • Field A.E.
        • Frazier A.L.
        • Colditz G.A.
        • Gillman M.W.
        Family dinner and adolescent overweight.
        Obes Res. 2005; 13: 900-906
        • Sen B.
        Frequency of family dinner and adolescent body weight status: Evidence from the national longitudinal survey of youth, 1997.
        Obesity. 2006; 14: 2266-2276
        • Fulkerson J.A.
        • Story M.
        • Mellin A.
        • Leffert N.
        • Neumark-Sztainer D.
        • French S.A.
        Family dinner meal frequency and adolescent development: Relationships with developmental assets and high-risk behaviors.
        J Adolesc Health. 2006; 39: 337-345
        • Fitzpatrick E.
        • Edmunds L.S.
        • Dennison B.A.
        Positive effects of family dinner are undone by television viewing.
        J Am Diet Assoc. 2007; 107: 666-671
        • Luntz Research Companies
        CASA surveys of teens, parents, teachers, and principals.
        Roper Center at University of Connecticut Public Opinion Online, Dayton, OH1997 (Cited in LexisNexis [database online]. Available at: http://www.casacolumbia.org/supportcasa/item.asp?cID=12&PID=107. Accessed May 2007)
        • The Gallup Organization
        Food, Physical Activity and Fun: What Kids Think.
        The American Dietetic Association National Center for Nutrition and Dietetics, The International Food Information Council, and The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, Chicago, IL1995
        • Princeton Survey Research Associates
        State of the union Mother’s Day poll.
        Roper Center at University of Connecticut Public Opinion Online, Dayton, OH1997 (Cited in Lexis-Nexis [database online]. Available at: http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?PageID=520. Accessed May 2007)
        • The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University
        The Importance of Family Dinners II.
        The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, New York, NY2005
        • Child Trends DataBank
        Family Meals.
        2007 (Available at: www.childtrendsdatabank.org. Accessed May 30)
        • Lytle L.A.
        Nutritional issues for adolescents.
        J Am Diet Assoc. 2002; 102: S8-S12
        • Mokdad A.H.
        • Marks J.S.
        • Stroup D.F.
        • Gerberding J.L.
        Actual causes of death in the United States, 2000.
        JAMA. 2004; 291: 1238-1245
        • Strauss R.S.
        • Pollack H.A.
        Epidemic increase in childhood overweight, 1986-1998.
        JAMA. 2001; 286: 2845-2848
        • Hedley A.A.
        • Ogden C.L.
        • Johnson C.L.
        • Carroll M.D.
        • Curtin L.R.
        • Flegal K.M.
        Prevalence of overweight and obesity among US children, adolescents, and adults, 1999-2002.
        JAMA. 2004; 291: 2847-2850
      1. Prevalence of overweight among children and adolescents: United States, 1999-2002.
        2004 (Available at: www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/pubs/pubd/hestats/overwght99.htm. Accessed May 2007)
      2. Surgeon General’s Report on Nutrition and Health.
        U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC1998 (Report No. 88-50210)
        • National Research Council Committee on Diet and Health
        Diet and health: Implications for reducing chronic disease risk.
        National Academies Press, Washington, DC1989
        • National Cholesterol Education Program
        Report on the Expert Panel on Blood Cholesterol Levels in Children and Adolescents.
        National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD1991 (NIH Publication No. 91-2732)
        • Keller C.
        • Stevens K.
        Assessment, etiology and intervention in obesity in children.
        Nurse Pract. 1996; 21: 31-42
        • Sowers M.F.
        • Galuska D.A.
        Epidemiology of bone mass in premenopausal women.
        Epidemiol Rev. 1993; 15: 374-398
        • Albertson A.M.
        • Tobelmann R.C.
        • Marquart L.
        Estimated dietary calcium intake and food sources for adolescent females: 1980-92.
        J Adolesc Health. 1997; 20: 20-26
        • Baer H.J.
        • Schnitt S.J.
        • Connolly J.L.
        • Byrne C.
        • Cho E.
        • Willett W.
        • Colditz G.
        Adolescent diet and incidence of proliferative benign breast disease.
        Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2003; 12: 1159-1167
        • Frazier A.L.
        • Li L.
        • Cho E.
        • Willett W.C.
        • Colditz G.A.
        Adolescent diet and risk of breast cancer.
        Cancer Causes Control. 2004; 15: 73-82
        • Boutelle K.N.
        • Birnbaum A.S.
        • Lytle L.A.
        • Murray D.M.
        • Story M.
        Associations between perceived family meal environment and parent intake of fruit, vegetables, and fat.
        J Nutr Educ Behav. 2003; 35: 24-29
        • Nielsen S.J.
        • Siega-Riz A.M.
        • Popkin B.M.
        Trends in food locations and sources among adolescents and young adults.
        Prev Med. 2002; 35: 107-113
        • Economic Research Service
        Food CPI, prices, and expenditures: Expenditures as a share of disposable income.
        2007 (Available at: http://www.ers.usda.gov/briefing/CPIFoodAndExpenditures/Data/table7.htm. Accessed May)
        • Economic Research Service
        The demand for food away-from-home: Full service or fast food?.
        2007 (Available at: http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/aer829. Accessed May)
        • Duffey K.J.
        • Gordon-Larsen P.
        • Jacobs D.R.
        • Williams O.D.
        • Popkin B.M.
        Differential associations of fast food and restaurant food consumption with 3-y change in body mass index: The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study.
        Am J Clin Nutr. 2007; 85: 201-208
        • Lin B.
        • Guthrie J.
        • Blaylock J.R.
        The diets of America’s children: Influence of dining out, household characteristics, and nutrition knowledge.
        2007 (Available at: http://www.ers.usda.gov/. Accessed May)
        • Paeratakul S.
        • Ferdinand D.P.
        • Champagne C.M.
        • Ryan D.H.
        • Bray F.A.
        Fast-food consumption among US adults and children: Dietary and nutrient intake profile.
        J Am Diet Assoc. 2003; 103: 1332-1338
        • French S.A.
        • Story M.
        • Neumark-Sztainer D.
        • Fulkerson J.A.
        • Hannan P.
        Fast food restaurant use among adolescents: Associations with nutrient intake, food choices, and behavioral and psychosocial variables.
        Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2001; 25: 1823-1833
        • Ma Y.
        • Bertone E.R.
        • Stanek E.J.
        • Reed G.W.
        • Hebert J.R.
        • Cohen N.L.
        • Merriam P.A.
        • Ockene I.S.
        Association between eating patterns and obesity in a free-living US adult population.
        Am J Epidemiol. 2003; 158: 85-92
        • McCrory M.A.
        • Fuss P.J.
        • Hays N.P.
        • Vinken A.G.
        • Greeenberg A.S.
        • Roberts S.B.
        Overeating in America: Association between restaurant food consumption and body fatness in healthy adult men and women ages 19 to 80.
        Obes Res. 1999; 7: 564-571
        • Jeffery R.W.
        • French S.A.
        Epidemic obesity in the United States: Are fast foods and television viewing contributing?.
        Am J Public Health. 1998; 88: 277-280
        • Niewmeir H.M.
        • Raynor H.A.
        • Lloyd-Richarson E.E.
        • Rogers M.L.
        • Wing R.R.
        Fast food consumptions and breakfast skipping: Predictors of weight gain from adolescence to adulthood in a nationally representative sample.
        J Ad Health. 2006; 39: 842-849
        • Larson N.I.
        • Neumark-Sztainer D.
        • Hannan P.J.
        • Story M.
        Family meals during adolescence are associated with higher diet quality and healthful meal patterns during young adulthood.
        J Am Diet Assoc. 2007; 107: 1502-1510

      Biography

      H. R. H. Rockett is a nutrition research manager, Channing Laboratory, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA.