Comparing childhood meal frequency to current meal frequency, routines, and expectations among parents

Sarah Friend, Jayne A. Fulkerson, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Ann Garwick, Colleen Freeh Flattum, Michelle Draxten

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14 Scopus citations


Little is known about the continuation of family meals from childhood to parenthood. This study aims to examine associations between parents' report of eating family meals while growing up and their current family meal frequency, routines, and expectations. Baseline data were used from the Healthy Home Offerings via the Mealtime Environment (HOME) Plus study, a randomized controlled trial with a program to promote healthful behaviors and family meals at home. Participants (160 parent/child dyads) completed data collection in 2011-2012 in the Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN metropolitan area. Parents were predominately female (95%) and white (77%) with a mean age of 41.3 years. General linear modeling examined relationships between parents' report of how often they ate family meals while growing up and their current family meal frequency, routines, and expectations as parents, controlling for parent age, education level, and race. Parental report of eating frequent family meals while growing up was positively and significantly associated with age, education, and self-identification as white (all p < .05). Compared to those who ate family meals less than three times/week or four to five times/week, parents who ate six to seven family meals/week while growing up reported significantly more frequent family meals with their current family (4.0, 4.2 vs. 5.3 family meals/week, p = .001). Eating frequent family meals while growing up was also significantly and positively associated with having current regular meal routines and meal expectations about family members eating together (both p < .05). Promoting family meals with children may have long-term benefits over generations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-140
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015



  • Expectations
  • Family meals
  • Family routines
  • Generations

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