The Impact of Family Meals on Diet and Food Behaviors

  • Sarah J. Woodruff
  • Rhona M. Hanning


The family can directly determine the physical and social environment for their children and adolescents which can ultimately influence food behaviors. The family meal, in particular, may provide insight into family food behaviors and potentially influence childhood and adolescent diet quality. Family meals can be used as a learning environment (e.g., food preparation, nutrition knowledge, table manners), and may influence family traditions, connectedness, and cohesion. Family meals are difficult to define (e.g., who must be present, location, environment), yet regular family meals (5 or more/week) have been reported by 25–70% of children and adolescents and 11–44% report family meals on 2 or fewer days per week. Family meals tend to decline with increasing age. Higher diet quality (e.g., higher intakes of vegetables/fruit, grains, dairy, protein, minerals, and vitamins) and food behaviors (e.g., consuming breakfast, limiting soft drink and/or sugar sweetened beverages, and having high self-efficacy for healthy eating), body weight status (eating disorders/obesity), psychological adjustment, high risk behaviors, and academic performance have been associated with higher family meal frequency. The main reason for not consuming meals together as a family is scheduling/time difficulties. Recently, health promotion agencies have adopted promoting family meals as a top strategy for child and adolescent health.


Eating Disorder Soft Drink Diet Quality Sugar Sweetened Beverage Family Meal 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah J. Woodruff
    • 1
  • Rhona M. Hanning
  1. 1.Department of KinesiologyUniversity of WindsorWindsorCanada

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