Objective The present study examined longitudinal associations between four family meal patterns (i.e. never had regular family meals, started having regular family meals, stopped having regular family meals, maintained having regular family meals) and young adult parents' dietary intake, weight-related behaviours and psychosocial well-being. In addition, family meal patterns of parents were compared with those of non-parents. Design Analysis of data from the longitudinal Project EAT (Eating and Activity in Adolescents and Young Adults) study. Linear and logistic regressions were used to examine the associations between family meal patterns and parents' dietary intake, weight-related behaviours and psychosocial well-being. Setting School and in-home settings. Subjects At baseline (1998; EAT-I), adolescents (n 4746) from socio-economically and racially/ethnically diverse households completed a survey and anthropometric measurements at school. At follow-up (2015; EAT-IV), participants who were parents (n 726) and who were non-parents with significant others (n 618) completed an online survey. Results Young adult parents who reported having regular family meals as an adolescent and as a parent ('maintainers'), or who started having regular family meals with their own families ('starters'), reported more healthful dietary, weight-related and psychosocial outcomes compared with young adults who never reported having regular family meals ('nevers'; P<0·05). In addition, parents were more likely to be family meal starters than non-parents. Conclusions Results suggest that mental and physical health benefits of having regular family meals may be realized as a parent whether the routine of regular family meals is carried forward from adolescence into parenthood, or if the routine is started in parenthood.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Financial support: This research was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (Principal Investigator D.N.-S., grant number R01HL116892). 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, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development or the National Institutes of Health. Conflict of interest: Authors have no conflicts of interest to report. Authorship: All co-authors made a substantial contribution to the paper as described below and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work regarding the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work. J.M.B. conceptualized the paper, assisted with data analysis and interpretation, wrote all drafts of the paper, and gave final approval of the version to be published. J.M. conducted the data analysis, critically reviewed the paper, and gave final approval of the version to be published. A.W. assisted with data analysis and interpretation, critically reviewed the paper, and gave final approval of the version to be published. N.L. assisted with data acquisition, interpretation of the data, critically reviewed the paper, and gave final approval of the version to be published. K.A.L. assisted with conceptualization of the paper, critically reviewed the paper, and gave final approval of the version to be published. D.N.-S. is the Principal Investigator on the grant, she critically reviewed the paper, and gave final approval of the version to be published. Ethics of human subject participation: The University of Minnesota’s Institutional Review Board Human Subjects Committee approved all protocols used in Project EAT at each wave.
- Dietary intake
- Family meal patterns
- Psychosocial well-being