Background: This study examined who is engaging in family/shared meals and associations between family/shared meal frequency and home food availability, dietary consumption, and emotional well-being among young adults during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: A rapid-response online survey was sent to participants in a ten-year longitudinal study (Eating and Activity over Time: EAT 2010–2018). A total of 585 young adults (mean age = 24.7 ± 2.0 years, 63.3% female) living with at least one family member completed the COVID-EAT (C-EAT) survey during the U.S. outbreak of COVID-19. Items assessed changes in family/shared meal frequency, eating behaviors, and emotional well-being. Regression models adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics examined associations between family/shared meal frequency and home food availability, dietary consumption, and emotional well-being. Results: Participants reported an average of 4.6 ± 3.4 family/shared meals per week during COVID-19, a 0.5 meal/week increase from prior to the pandemic (p =.002). Family/shared meal frequency during COVID-19 differed by race/ethnicity, with Asian American participants being most likely to report only 1–2 family/shared meals per week. Family/shared meals during COVID-19 were associated with higher vegetable intake, greater availability of fruits, vegetables, and whole wheat bread in the home, lower levels of depressive symptoms and perceived stress, and greater perceived ability to manage stress in young adults. Conclusions: Results suggest that engaging in a regular routine, such as family/shared meals, during COVID-19 may have protective associations with dietary health and emotional well-being for young adults. Results may inform practices/routines to offer protective benefits during public health crises such as the current pandemic.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported by Grant Number R35HL139853 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (PI: D. Neumark-Sztainer). Vivienne Hazzard and Samantha Hahn’s time was funded by Grant Number T32MH082761 from the National Institute of Mental Health (PI: S. Crow). Rebecca Emery’s time was funded by Grant Numbers TL1R002493 (PI: J. Fulkerson) and UL1TR002494 (PI: B. Blazar) from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, or the National Institutes of Health.
© 2021 The Author(s)
- Diet quality
- Family meal routines
- Home food availability emotional well-being
- Shared meals
- Young adults
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article