Associations among Nine Family Dinner Frequency Measures and Child Weight, Dietary, and Psychosocial Outcomes

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27 Scopus citations


Background: Family meal frequency has been consistently and significantly associated with positive youth dietary and psychosocial outcomes, but less consistently associated with weight outcomes. Family meal frequency measurement has varied widely and it is unclear how this variation might impact relationships with youth weight, dietary, and psychosocial outcomes. Objective: This study assesses how five parent/caregiver-reported and four child-reported family dinner frequency measures correlate with each other and are associated with health-related outcomes. Design/participants: This secondary, cross-sectional analysis uses baseline, parent/caregiver (n=160) and 8- to 12-year-old child (n=160) data from the Healthy Home Offerings via the Mealtime Environment (HOME) Plus trial (collected 2011 to 2012). Data were obtained from objective measurements, dietary recall interviews, and psychosocial surveys. Outcome measures: Outcomes included child body mass index z scores (BMIz); fruit, vegetable, and sugar-sweetened beverage intake; dietary quality (Healthy Eating Index-2010); family connectedness; and meal conversations. Statistical analyses performed: Pearson correlations and general linear models were used to assess associations between family dinner frequency measures and outcomes. Results: All family dinner frequency measures had comparable means and were correlated within and across parent/caregiver and child reporters (r=0.17 to 0.94; P<0.01). In unadjusted analyses, 78% of family dinner frequency measures were significantly associated with BMIz and 100% were significantly associated with fruit and vegetable intake and Healthy Eating Index-2010. In adjusted models, most significant associations with dietary and psychosocial outcomes remained, but associations with child BMIz remained significant only for parent/caregiver- (β±standard error=-.07± .03; P < 0.05) and child-reported (β±standard error=-.06 ± .02; P<0.01) family dinner frequency measures asking about "sitting and eating" dinner. Conclusions: Despite phrasing variations in family dinner frequency measures (eg, which family members were present and how meals were occurring), few differences were found in associations with dietary and psychosocial outcomes, but differences were apparent for child BMIz, which suggests that phrasing of family dinner frequency measures can influence associations found with weight outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)991-999
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.


  • Body mass index
  • Connectedness
  • Dietary intake
  • Family meals
  • Measurement


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