Family Meals during Adolescence Are Associated with Higher Diet Quality and Healthful Meal Patterns during Young Adulthood

Nicole I. Larson, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Peter J Hannan, Mary T Story

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

262 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Cross-sectional research in adolescents has found that eating family meals is associated with better nutritional intake. Objective: To describe meal patterns of young adults and determine if family meal frequency during adolescence is associated with diet quality, meal frequency, social eating, and meal structure during young adulthood. Design: Population-based, 5-year longitudinal study in Minnesota. Subjects/setting: Surveys and food frequency questionnaires were completed by 946 female students and 764 male students in high school classrooms at Time 1 (1998-1999; mean age 15.9 years) and by mail at Time 2 (2003-2004; mean age 20.4 years). Statistical analyses performed: Multiple linear regression models were used to predict mean levels of young adult outcomes from adolescent family meal frequency. Probability testing of trends in each outcome across ordered categories of family meal frequency used linear contrasts. Results: Family meal frequency during adolescence predicted higher intakes of fruit (P<0.05), vegetables (P<0.01), dark-green and orange vegetables (P=0.001), and key nutrients and lower intakes of soft drinks (P<0.05) during young adulthood. Frequency of family meals also predicted more breakfast meals (P<0.01) in females and for both sexes predicted more frequent dinner meals (P<0.05), higher priority for meal structure (P<0.001), and higher priority for social eating (P<0.001). Associations between Time 1 family meals and Time 2 dietary outcomes were attenuated with adjustment for Time 1 outcomes but several associations were still statistically significant. Conclusions: Family meals during adolescence may have a lasting positive influence on dietary quality and meal patterns in young adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1502-1510
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Dietetic Association
Volume107
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Data collection for this research was supported by grant No. R40 MC 00319 from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (Title V, Social Security Act), Health Resources and Service Administration, US Department of Health and Human Services. Analyses were supported by the Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition, General Mills, and by the Adolescent Health Protection Program (School of Nursing, University of Minnesota) grant No. T01-DP000112 from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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