A review of family and social determinants of children's eating patterns and diet quality

J Am Coll Nutr. 2005 Apr;24(2):83-92. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2005.10719448.


With the growing problem of childhood obesity, recent research has begun to focus on family and social influences on children's eating patterns. Research has demonstrated that children's eating patterns are strongly influenced by characteristics of both the physical and social environment. With regard to the physical environment, children are more likely to eat foods that are available and easily accessible, and they tend to eat greater quantities when larger portions are provided. Additionally, characteristics of the social environment, including various socioeconomic and sociocultural factors such as parents' education, time constraints, and ethnicity influence the types of foods children eat. Mealtime structure is also an important factor related to children's eating patterns. Mealtime structure includes social and physical characteristics of mealtimes including whether families eat together, TV-viewing during meals, and the source of foods (e.g., restaurants, schools). Parents also play a direct role in children's eating patterns through their behaviors, attitudes, and feeding styles. Interventions aimed at improving children's nutrition need to address the variety of social and physical factors that influence children's eating patterns.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Nutrition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Child Nutrition Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Diet / psychology
  • Diet / standards*
  • Eating
  • Family*
  • Female
  • Food Preferences / psychology*
  • Food Supply
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Prevalence
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States / epidemiology