BACKGROUND: Research has related child participation in organized activities to health and academic benefits; however, participation may interfere with family meals.
OBJECTIVE: Examine whether parents perceive child participation in organized activities to interfere with family meals and how perceptions are related to the household eating environment.
DESIGN: A cross-sectional analysis was completed using survey data collected in 2015-2016 as part of the Project EAT (Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults) cohort study.
PARTICIPANTS: Survey participants were originally recruited in Minneapolis-St Paul schools in 1998-1999. The analytic subsample of parents (one per household, n=389, 69% female, 31% nonwhite race, mean age=31) had one or more children involved in an organized activity. Approximately 33% of households included a child aged 2 to 5 and no older child; two thirds of households included school-aged children (6 to 18 years).
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Parents reported family meal frequency, family meal scheduling difficulties, frequency of at-home meal preparation, and their own intake of fast food, fruit, and vegetables.
STATISTICAL ANALYSES PERFORMED: Analyses compared household environment characteristics reported by parents who perceived low interference between organized activities and family meals to characteristics reported by parents who perceived moderate to high interference from at least one form of activity. Regression models included a dichotomous indicator of interference as the independent variable and were adjusted for parental and household characteristics.
RESULTS: Among parents with children at any age, moderate to high interference was associated with lower family meal frequency, greater difficulty scheduling family meals, and more fast-food intake (all P≤0.01). The perception of moderate to high interference was more common among parents who reported involvement in both sport and nonsport activities (P<0.001) and those with a school-aged child (P<0.001) vs those with only preschool-aged children.
CONCLUSIONS: Follow-up research, including qualitative studies, is needed to identify the specific aspects of child participation in organized activities (eg, scheduled time of day) that may interfere with family meals.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
FUNDING/SUPPORT This work was supported by Grant Number R01HL116892 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (PI: Neumark-Sztainer). Additional salary support was also provided by Grant Number R35HL139853 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (PI: Neumark-Sztainer). 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 or the National Institutes of Health.
© 2020 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
- Family meals
- Fast-food restaurants
- Organized activities
- Feeding Behavior/psychology
- Cross-Sectional Studies
- Social Environment
- Family Characteristics
- Adolescent Behavior
- Parent-Child Relations
- Cohort Studies
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article
- Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural