Parental food-related behaviors and family meal frequencies: associations in Norwegian dyads of parents and preadolescent children

BMC Public Health. 2013 Sep 10:13:820. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-13-820.


Background: Frequent family meals are associated with healthy dietary behaviors and other desirable outcomes in children and adolescents. Therefore, increased knowledge about factors that may increase the occurrence of family meals is warranted. The present study has its focus on the home food environment, and aims to explore potential associations between parent-reported feeding behaviors and child-reported family meal frequencies.

Methods: Cross-sectional surveys were performed among 10-12-year-olds and their parents recruited from eighteen schools in southwest Norway. The child questionnaire included measures of family meal frequencies (breakfast, dinner and supper). The parent questionnaire included measures of parental feeding behaviors adapted from the Comprehensive Feeding Practices Questionnaire. A series of multiple linear regression analyses were conducted to examine the relationships between parental feeding behaviors and the frequency of family meals.

Results: The frequency of family breakfasts was associated with three parental feeding variables; home environment (β=.11, p<.05), pressure to eat (β=.11, p<.01), and monitoring (β=.10, p<.05). The frequency of family dinners and suppers was associated with one parental feeding variable; home environment (β=.11, p<.01 and β=.12, p<.01 for dinners and suppers respectively).

Conclusions: The home environment variable was the most important correlate of child-reported family meal frequencies in this study. Although further research is needed, our findings support the evident influence of parents and the home food environment on child and adolescent eating behavior, which in the present study was measured as the frequency of shared family meals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breakfast
  • Child
  • Child Welfare*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Eating / physiology
  • Eating / psychology*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meals*
  • Menu Planning
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parenting
  • Social Environment
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors