The impact various sources of stress have on family meal decisions and child health-related behaviors is an understudied area. For this study, 128 racially/ethnically diverse parent/child dyads were recruited from primary care clinics in the Twin Cities, Minnesota between 2015 and 2016. Parent participants completed eight days of ecological momentary assessment, which included end-of-day surveys where the parent reported on (1) sources of daily stress (e.g., family demands, work/school demands) and related family meal choices (e.g., fixed quick meal, skipped meal), (2) meal planning, and (3) parent and child health-related behaviors (e.g., watched TV, ate unhealthy snack). Adjusted generalized estimating equations were used to estimate marginal probabilities and 95% confidence intervals of outcomes by race/ethnicity. Results indicated that common meal-related choices as a result of being stressed varied from fixing a quick/easy meal, buying fast food, everyone fixing their own meal or skipping a meal, or none of the above. When parents reported family demands as the source of stress, children were three times more likely to eat an unhealthy snack. Additionally, children were more likely to eat an unhealthy snack with higher levels of parental stress or if families have not planned the meal the night before. Interventions to lower parental stress and support family meal planning may increase the healthfulness of the home food environment during moments of elevated stress.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Research is supported by grant number R01HL126171 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (PI: Jerica Berge). 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 The Author(s)