Helping With Meal Preparation and Children's Dietary Intake: A Literature Review

J Sch Nurs. 2019 Feb;35(1):51-60. doi: 10.1177/1059840518781235. Epub 2018 Jun 12.


Most children and adolescents do not meet dietary recommendations that may result in poor diets contributing to obesity. This systematic literature review was conducted to examine associations between helping with meal preparation at home and dietary quality, intake of specific foods, and/or dietary-related perceptions among youth. A search of databases using key terms was conducted for studies meeting criteria. This literature review included 15 studies using a cross-sectional descriptive design, with two studies also including a longitudinal design. Data were self-reported (or parent-reported) using various surveys and/or interviews. Study findings supported positive associations between youth involvement in home meal preparation and improvement in overall dietary quality, increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, greater preference for vegetables, and higher self-efficacy for cooking and choosing healthy foods. Further research is needed to develop efficacious meal preparation interventions involving parents and their children to promote this mealtime behavior with many potential health benefits.

Keywords: dietary quality; fruits and vegetables; meal preparation; obesity; perceptions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Diet / methods*
  • Helping Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Meals*
  • Nutrition Disorders / prevention & control*