Is frequency of family meals associated with fruit and vegetable intake among preschoolers? A logistic regression analysis

J Hum Nutr Diet. 2018 Aug;31(4):505-512. doi: 10.1111/jhn.12531. Epub 2018 Jan 23.


Background: The present study aimed to examine the associations between frequency of family meals and low fruit and vegetable intake in preschool children. Promoting healthy nutrition early in life is recommended for combating childhood obesity. Frequency of family meals is associated with fruit and vegetable intake in school-age children and adolescents; the relationship in young children is less clear.

Methods: We completed a secondary analysis using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort. Participants included children, born in the year 2001, to mothers who were >15 years old (n = 8 950). Data were extracted from structured parent interviews during the year prior to kindergarten. We used hierarchical logistic regression to describe the relationships between frequency of family meals and low fruit and vegetable intake.

Results: Frequency of family meals was associated with low fruit and vegetable intake. The odds of low fruit and vegetable intake were greater for preschoolers who shared less than three evening family meals per week (odds ratio = 1.5, β = 0.376, P < 0.001) than preschoolers who shared the evening meal with family every night.

Conclusions: Fruit and vegetable intake is related to frequency of family meals in preschool-age children. Educating parents about the potential benefits of frequent shared meals may lead to a higher fruit and vegetable consumption among preschoolers. Future studies should address other factors that likely contribute to eating patterns during the preschool years.

Keywords: family meals; feeding; fruit and vegetable intake; health; nutrition; preschool.

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Eating / psychology
  • Educational Status
  • Family*
  • Female
  • Fruit*
  • Health Education
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Maternal Age
  • Meals* / psychology
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parents / education
  • Pediatric Obesity
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Vegetables*