Family meals can help children reach their 5 a day: a cross-sectional survey of children's dietary intake from London primary schools

J Epidemiol Community Health. 2013 Apr;67(4):332-8. doi: 10.1136/jech-2012-201604. Epub 2012 Dec 19.

Abstract

Background: This study aims to explore how the home food environment and parental attitudes and values affect children's fruit and vegetable (F&V) intake.

Methods: The sample consists of 2383 children with a mean age of 8.3 years (95% CI 8.2 to 8.3) attending 52 primary schools in London. These children are taking part in two randomised controlled trials to evaluate a school gardening programme. Diet was assessed using a validated 24-h food tick list, the Child And Diet Evaluation Tool (CADET).

Results: The CADET tool found that children consumed on average 293 g F&V (95% CI 287 to 303) per day. Clustered (by school) multilevel regression models with total F&V as the primary outcome were conducted to explore how the home environment affects children's F&V intake. Children of families who reported 'always' eating a family meal together at a table had 125 g (95% CI 92 to 157; p=<0.001) more F&V than families who never ate a meal together. Daily consumption of F&V by parents was associated with higher F&V (88 g, 95% CI 37 to 138) intake in children compared with rarely/never consumption of F&V by parents. Cutting up fruit and vegetables for children was associated with higher consumption. Families who reported always cutting up F&V for their children had 44 g (95% CI 18 to 71) more F&V than families who never cut up F&V.

Conclusions: This study identified that cutting up F&V and family consumption of F&V facilitates children's intake. Eating a family meal together regularly could increase children's F&V intake and help them achieve the recommended intake.

Trial registration: ISRCTN11396528.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Fruit*
  • Humans
  • London
  • Male
  • Meals / psychology*
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Regression Analysis
  • Schools / statistics & numerical data
  • Vegetables*

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN11396528