Dinner rituals that correlate with child and adult BMI

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2014 May;22(5):E91-5. doi: 10.1002/oby.20629. Epub 2013 Dec 19.


Objective: What predicts whether a child will be at risk for obesity? Whereas past research has focused on foods, eating habits, feeding styles, and family meal patterns, this study departs from a food-centric approach to examine how various dinner rituals might influence the BMIs of children and adults.

Methods: In this study of 190 parents (BMI = 29.1 ± 7.2) and 148 children (BMI = 20.3 ± 4.4), the relationship between their BMIs and everyday family dinner rituals was examined using both correlation and regression analysis (controlled for educational level of parents).

Results: Families who frequently ate dinner in the kitchen or dining room had significantly lower BMIs for both adults (r = -0.31) and children (r = -0.24) compared to families who ate elsewhere. Additionally, helping cook dinner was associated with higher BMI for girls (r = 0.26), and remaining at the table until everyone is finished with eating was associated with lower BMI for boys (r = -0.31).

Conclusions: Dinner tables may be one place where social support and family involvement meet-both of which relate to the BMI of children as well as parents. Family meals and their rituals might be an underappreciated battleground to fight obesity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Child
  • Eating / psychology
  • Energy Intake
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meals*
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Parents
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires