Perspectives about Family Meals from Single-Headed and Dual-Headed Households: A Qualitative Analysis

Jerica M. Berge, Caroline Hoppmann, Carrie Hanson, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer

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41 Scopus citations


Cross-sectional and longitudinal research has shown that family meals are protective for adolescent healthful eating behaviors. However, little is known about what parents think of these findings and whether parents from single- vs dual-headed households have differing perspectives about the findings. In addition, parents' perspectives regarding barriers to applying the findings on family meals in their own homes and suggestions for more widespread adoption of the findings are unknown. The current study aimed to identify single- and dual-headed household parents' perspectives regarding the research findings on family meals, barriers to applying the findings in their own homes, and suggestions for helping families have more family meals. The current qualitative study included 59 parents who participated in substudy of two linked multilevel studies-EAT 2010 (Eating and Activity in Teens) and Families and Eating and Activity in Teens (F-EAT). Parents (91.5% female) were racially/ethnically and socioeconomically diverse. Data were analyzed using a grounded theory approach. Results from the current study suggest that parents from both single- and dual-headed households have similar perspectives regarding why family meals are protective for healthful eating habits for adolescents (eg, provides structure/routine, opportunities for communication, connection), but provide similar and different reasons for barriers to family meals (eg, single-headed=cost vs dual-headed=lack of creativity) and ideas and suggestions for how to increase the frequency of family meals (eg, single-headed=give fewer options vs dual-headed=include children in the meal preparation). Findings can help inform public health intervention researchers and providers who work with adolescents and their families to understand how to approach discussions regarding reasons for having family meals, barriers to carrying out family meals, and ways to increase family meals depending on family structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1632-1639
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
FUNDING/SUPPORT Research is supported by grant number R01 HL093247 and R01 HL084064 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) (principal investigator: D. Neumark-Sztainer). J. M. Berge’s time is supported by grant number R21 DK091619 from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) (principal investigator: J. M. Berge). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NHLBI, NIDDK, or the National Institutes of Health.


  • Adolescents
  • Dual-headed households
  • Family meals
  • Parents
  • Single-headed households


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