Purpose: Family dinner is a proxy of family connectedness that may affect mental health. The present study aimed to examine the associations of frequency of family dinner with mental disorders and obesity in a nationally-representative sample of Iranian adolescents.
Methods: A total of 5528 Iranians adolescents aged 10-18 years were enrolled in 2009-2010 in the third survey of a national surveillance program, entitled Childhood and Adolescence Surveillance and Prevention of Adult Non-communicable disease (CASPIAN-III) study. The frequency of family dinner meal was assessed. Mental health assessments were done as part of the World Health Organization-Global School-based Student Health Survey. The odds of having mental disorders and obesity were assessed by logistic regression.
Results: No significant difference was found in dietary intake between family dinner consumers (≥5 times (night)/wk) and skippers (<5 times/wk); however, they were more likely to consume breakfast and had higher meal frequency. After controlling for some confounders, dinner consumers had lower odds for all types of mental disorders (OR = 0.55; 95% CI = 0.47-0.64), anxiety (OR = 0.47; 95% CI = 0.4-0.54), insomnia (OR = 0.6; 95% CI = 0.53-0.7), and confusion (OR = 0.7; 95% CI = 0.6-0.86), as well as the body mass index- z score (OR = 0.78; 95% CI = 0.73-0.84).
Conclusion: The current study showed an inverse relationship between the frequency of family dinner consuming and mental disorders and obesity in a nationally-representative sample of Iranian adolescents. Such simple recommendations for consuming family dinner for families may be feasible, sustainable, and effective for health promotion and disease prevention.