Friday, June 10, 2011

Busy Week

So here it is Friday again . . .where did the week go? I guess that is a good sign in that it has been pretty busy in the Haas household. One goal that I have been working towards achieving is reading at least 3 journal articles weekly as a means of staying"abreast the latest medical and nutritional developments and research." Even with my hectic schedule, I was able to reach my goal and wanted to share one of the article's abstract with you. I work with clients of all ages, but find that adolescents and even preteens can be difficult to counsel depending on their family situation. Most do not cook and rely on their parents (who often do not sit down to eat regular meals let alone home-cooked fare) for food. This latest article discusses the importance and direct correlation with healthy eating behaviors linked to family mealtimes. I wholeheartedly agree and am pleased that the findings of the study support this practice. On that very note, I am prepping to have my parents over for dinner this evening and the house needs some cleaning . . .

Is Frequency of Shared Family Meals Related to the Nutritional Health of Children and Adolescents?

  1. Amber J. Hammons, PhD,
  2. Barbara H. Fiese, PhD

+Author Affiliations

  1. Family Resiliency Center, Human and Community Development, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois


OBJECTIVE: We used meta-analytic methods to examine the frequency of shared family mealtimes in relation to nutritional health in children and adolescents. The primary objective was to determine consistency and strength of effects across 17 studies that examined overweight and obese, food consumption and eating patterns, and disordered eating.

METHODS: The total sample size for all studies was 182 836 children and adolescents (mean sample age: 2.8–17.3 years). Pooled odds ratios were calculated. A random-effects model was used to estimate all outcomes.

RESULTS: The frequency of shared family meals is significantly related to nutritional health in children and adolescents. Children and adolescents who share family meals 3 or more times per week are more likely to be in a normal weight range and have healthier dietary and eating patterns than those who share fewer than 3 family meals together. In addition, they are less likely to engage in disordered eating.

CONCLUSIONS: Educational and public health initiatives aimed at promoting shared family mealtimes may improve nutritional health of children and adolescents. Clinicians may advise their patients about the benefits of sharing 3 or more family mealtimes per week; benefits include a reduction in the odds for overweight (12%), eating unhealthy foods (20%), and disordered eating (35%) and an increase in the odds for eating healthy foods (24%).

Key Words:
  • Accepted February 4, 2011.

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