The individual and combined influence of the "quality" and "quantity" of family meals on adult body mass index

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Abstract

Although there is a well-established literature showing a positive association between the frequency of family meals and child and adolescent healthful dietary intake and lower body mass index (BMI), little is known about the association between family meal frequency (quantity) and adult health outcomes and whether quality (distractions) of family meals influences adult BMI. This study investigates the association between the quantity and quality of family meals and adult BMI. Data were from a nationally representative sample of 4,885 adults ages 25 to 64 years (56% female), from which an analytic sample of 1,779 parents was drawn for the current study. Multiple linear regression was used to test the relationship between family meal frequency and quality of family meals and adult BMI, controlling for sociodemographics. Interactions between family meal quantity and quality were also examined. The quantity of family meals and the quality of family meals were both independently related to adult BMI. Specifically, the frequency of family meals was associated with lower adult BMI and lower quality of family meals was associated with higher adult BMI. The interaction between quantity and quality was not statistically significant. Results suggest that both the quantity and quality of family meals matter for adult BMI, but one is not dependent on the other. Health care providers who work with families may want to consider promoting the importance of the quality and quantity of family meals to benefit the entire family.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)344-351
Number of pages8
JournalFamilies, Systems and Health
Volume30
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2012

Keywords

  • Adults
  • BMI
  • Body mass index
  • Distractions at family meals
  • Family meals

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