Objective: To examine associations between watching television during family meals and dietary intake among adolescents. Design: Cross-sectional study using survey data from a diverse sample of adolescents. Setting: Data were collected from a school-based survey during the 1998-1999 school year. Participants: Middle and high school students (N = 4746) from 31 public schools in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Response rate was 81.5%. Variables Measured: Intake of fruits, total vegetables, dark green/yellow vegetables, calcium-rich food, grains, soft drinks, fried food, snack food, calories, family meal frequency, and watching television during meals. Analysis: General linear modeling comparing dietary intake across 3 groups. Results: 33.5% of boys and 30.9% of girls reported watching television during family meals. Adolescents watching television were found to have lower intakes of vegetables, dark green/yellow vegetables, calcium-rich food, and grains and higher intakes of soft drinks compared to adolescents not watching television during meals. However, watching television during family meals was associated with a more healthful diet than not eating regular family meals. Conclusions and Implications: Watching television during family meals was associated with poorer dietary quality among adolescents. Health care providers should work with families and adolescents to promote family meals, emphasizing turning the TV off at meals.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Support for this project came from grant MCJ-270834 (Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, principal investigator) from the Bureau of Maternal and Child Health (Title V, Social Security Act), Health Resources and Services Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, US Public Health Service, through funds from the Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH) Fellowship Training Program, University of Minnesota (grant 1-T71-MC00025-01, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, DHHS), and from the General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition.
- dietary intake
- family meal