Focus groups with working parents of school-aged children: What's needed to improve family meals?

Jayne A. Fulkerson, Martha Y. Kubik, Sarah Rydell, Kerri N. Boutelle, Ann Garwick, Mary Story, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Bonnie Dudovitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Objective: To conduct focus groups to identify parents' perceptions of barriers to family meals and elucidate ideas to guide the development of interventions to overcome barriers. Methods: Focus groups were conducted with a convenience sample of 27 working parents in urban community settings. Results: Parents reported enjoying the sharing/bonding at meals, but they reported limited time for meal preparation and frequent multi-tasking at mealtime. They wanted their children's help with meal preparation, but they were concerned about the time and " mess" involved. They were frustrated with the limited range of food items their children would eat. Preferred program ideas included feeding tips/recipes, meal planning/preparation, and changing food offerings. Conclusions and Implications: Findings indicate a need for creative programs and professional nutrition guidance to facilitate family engagement in planning and cooking quick, healthful meals; development of skill building; and increasing healthful food consumption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-193
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was conducted with funds from the NIH (R21-DK0072997) . The authors thank the participants, the school and church staff for their support, and Leslie Lytle for her suggestions regarding the focus group content and comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript.


  • Family meals
  • Focus groups
  • Meal preparation
  • Parents

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