Academic journal article Childhood Obesity

Perspectives about Family Meals from Racially/Ethnically and Socioeconomically Diverse Households with and without an Overweight/Obese Child

Academic journal article Childhood Obesity

Perspectives about Family Meals from Racially/Ethnically and Socioeconomically Diverse Households with and without an Overweight/Obese Child

Article excerpt

[Author Affiliation]

Jerica M. Berge. Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, MN.

Carrie Hanson. Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, MN.

Michelle Draxten. Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, MN.

Address correspondence to: Jerica M. Berge, PhD, MPH, LMFT, CFLE, Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Minnesota Medical School, 717 Delaware Street Southeast, Room 424, Minneapolis, MN 55414, E-mail: jberge@umn.edu

Introduction

Cross-sectional and longitudinal studies have consistently found that having frequent family meals is associated with multiple health benefits for children and adolescents, including healthful dietary intake,1-4 lower levels of unhealthy weight control behaviors,5 and better psychosocial well-being.6 In addition, associations between family meal frequency and lower child weight status have been found; however, not all findings have been consistent.1,7,8 Although there have been numerous quantitative studies examining the association between family meal frequency and child and adolescent weight and weight-related behaviors,1-8 limited qualitative research has been conducted to understand more in depth about family meal-level characteristics (e.g., rules, responsibilities, and interpersonal dynamics) occurring during family meals that may explain the association between family meal frequency and child weight status. In addition, no studies that we are aware of have compared family meals in households where there is a child who is overweight/obese and households where there is a child who is normal weight. Understanding how family meals operate in households with and without an overweight/obese child will help to identify potential risk and protective factors related to family meals that may be linked to child weight and weight-related behaviors. Further, identifying family meal-level characteristics in households with normal weight children could inform targets for interventions to reduce childhood obesity.

The majority of the previous qualitative research on family meals has not included racially/ethnically and socioeconomically diverse populations,9 has focused more on barriers and problems with carrying out family meals (e.g., time constraints, cost, and lack of ideas),10-12 or has examined the benefits of family meals and why families have family meals (e.g., time to communicate, family togetherness).10,12-14 Thus, more qualitative research is needed examining multiple family meal-level characteristics (e.g., rules during family meals, media/screen time expectations, child behavior at meals, and meal preparation behaviors) with racially/ethnically and socioeconomically diverse families in order to understand more in depth why family meals may be protective for child weight and weight-related behaviors.

The main aim of the current study is to identify family meal-level characteristics that are similar and/or different in racially/ethnically and socioeconomically diverse households with and without an overweight/obese child. The main research questions included: (1) Do parents report similar or different reasons for having family meals in households with and without an overweight/obese child?; (2) Do parents report similar or different rules during mealtimes in households with and without an overweight/obese child?; (3) Do parents report similar or different child behaviors during family meals in households with and without an overweight/obese child?; and (4) Do parents report similar or different meal preparation behaviors in households with and without an overweight/obese child?

Methods

Sample

The current study utilized data from the Family Meals, LIVE! …

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