Is it better at home with my family? The effects of people and place on children's eating behavior

Appetite. 2018 Feb 1;121:111-118. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2017.11.002. Epub 2017 Nov 6.


The people and places children eat with can influence food consumption. This study investigates the people and places Swiss school-aged children ate with over a 7-day period and analyses the effects of eating at home with family on food consumption. Children completed a 7-day food diary documenting the foods they consumed, the people with whom they ate, and the place where they ate. Analyses were conducted for all meals and included 9911 meal occasions. Most meals (80.5%) were consumed at home with family. Generalized estimating equations were used to model the effects of the home-family dyad on the child's chance of consuming a certain food while controlling for age, gender and BMI of the child, education, nationality and BMI of the parent. Compared to eating in other dyads (e.g. school-peers or restaurant-family), eating in the home-family dyad was associated with higher consumption of vegetables (+66% and +142% at weekday lunch and dinner and +180% and +67% at weekend lunch and dinner), lower consumption of sweets (-45% and -49% at weekday lunch and dinner; -43% and -49% at weekend lunch and dinner), and fewer soft drinks (-37% and -61% at weekday lunch and dinner; -66% and -78% at weekend lunch and dinner). This study shows the positive influence of eating at home with the family on food consumption in a sample of Swiss children. Interventions and policies that encourage children and parents to eat together at home could serve as effective prevention against a poor diet.

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Carbonated Beverages
  • Child
  • Child Behavior*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet*
  • Family Characteristics*
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Lunch
  • Male
  • Meals
  • Mental Recall
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parents
  • Schools
  • Social Environment*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Switzerland
  • Vegetables