Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Public Health

Effects of Family Meal Frequency on Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease in Korean Elderly Males and Females

Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Public Health

Effects of Family Meal Frequency on Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease in Korean Elderly Males and Females

Article excerpt


Recently, the Seoul metropolitan government con-ducted a survey regarding Seoul citizen's health and frequency of family meals. According to the survey results targeting 2,425 citizens, 28.4% of respondents have a meal with their family 3~5 times a week, and 25% of them have a meal with their family 1~2 times a week (1).

Having a meal with one's family can be used as an opportunity to recognize family members as a liv-ing community as well as to express the bond among family members (2). In addition, it was re-vealed that the more the chance to have a meal with one's family, the higher the probability to have a balanced diet and healthy eating habits (3).

However, in the rapidly changing modern society, the busy life of individuals causes a reduction of family meals; this result is due to an increase in the situation where each individual needs to take care of his/her meals rather than eating together with the family at home due to increased economic ac-tivity of married women in the Korean society as well as an increase in children's afterschool and private education activities (4). Such a different daily schedule of each family member leads to the difficulty of eating together, thereby making indi-vidual meals a general trend.

The reduction of family meals makes a negative influence on family members' mental and physical health. In particular, family members who highly depend on family, such as the elderly, growing children or adolescents, are more likely to be af-fected. Thus, the effects of family meals on school adaptation of children and adolescents are often reported. Sung et al. reported that a lack of family meal affects the nutritional imbalance, social isola-tion and emotional instability (5). Moreover, schoolchildren who eat alone have a tendency to less enjoy the meal time and have a meal that may cause nutritional deficiencies than children who have a meal with their family (6).

A study associated with family meals in the elderly investigated the diversity of food type, chewing ability, and intellectual capability biannually from 1992 to 2000, targeting 417 Japanese elderly (7). Larrieu et al. examined the eating habits for 9,250 elderly aged over 65 years living in a community (8). As a result, the elderly who lives alone or has a lower education level is more likely to have an un-balanced diet, ultimately showing the importance of family meals. Moreover, Allen et al.'s study, which examined foods cooked by the wife within the family, targeting 83 middle-aged or older Afri-can Americans living in the United States showed that most males appreciate their wife's foods for family health, reminding the importance of eating at home (9).

Although there are several reports regarding the effect of family meals on weight or BMI, studies specifically identifying the effect of family meals on the health of the elderly are not sufficient. Berge et al. proved the significant inverse correla-tion between family meal frequency and adult BMI using BMI figures of 4,885 adults aged 25~64. However, the elderly aged over 65 years were not included in the study (10). Furthermore, Sobal & Hanson tried to figure out the association between family meals and weight by targeting 360 individuals aged 18~85; however, they did not divide the groups by age (11).

Currently, the elderly population accounts for a large proportion in the overall composition of the population in Korea. Based on reports in 2013, the elderly population aged 65 or older comprised 12.2% of the entire population, already exceeding the aging society; moreover, it is predicted that in 2017, the Korean society will enter the aged soci-ety (12). In the case of the elderly, when consider-ing that they spend most of their time at home and highly depend on their family, the frequency of family meals may affect the health of the el-derly; yet, previous research on this topic is not sufficient.

Therefore, this study aims to identify the associa-tions between family meal and elderly health. …

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