Are Family Meal Patterns Associated with Overall Diet Quality during the Transition from Early to Middle Adolescence?

Teri L. Burgess-Champoux, Nicole Larson, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Peter J. Hannan, Mary Story

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

129 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine longitudinal associations of participation in regular family meals (≥ 5 meals/week) with eating habits and dietary intake during adolescence. Design: Population-based, longitudinal study (Project EAT: Eating Among Teens). Surveys were completed in Minnesota classrooms at Time 1 (1998-1999) and by mail at Time 2 (2003-2004). Setting: Baseline surveys were completed in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, schools and by mail at follow-up. Participants: 677 adolescents (303 males and 374 females) who were in middle school at Time 1 (mean age = 12.8 ± 0.74 years) and high school at Time 2 (mean age = 17.2 ± 0.59 years). Main Outcome Measures: Dietary intake, frequency of meals, and fast-food intake patterns. Analysis: Generalized linear modeling stratified by gender and adjusted for race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and the Time 1 outcome. Results: Regular family meals were positively associated with Time 2 frequency of breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals for males and breakfast and dinner meals for females. Among males, regular family meals were negatively associated with Time 2 fast-food intake. Regular family meals were also positively associated with Time 2 mean daily intakes of vegetables, calcium-rich food, fiber, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, folate, and vitamins A and B6 among both genders. Conclusions and Implications: Regular family meals during early adolescence may contribute to the formation of healthful eating habits 5 years later. Parents should be made aware of the importance of shared mealtime experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-86
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Data collection was supported by grant R40 MC 00319 from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (Title V, Social Security Act), Health Resources and Service Administration, Department of Health and Human Services. Analyses were supported by the Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition, General Mills and by the Adolescent Health Protection Training Program grant number T01-DP000112 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of Health and Human Services. The contents of this manuscript are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC.


  • adolescent
  • diet quality
  • family meals
  • meal patterns

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