Correlates of irregular family meal patterns among 11-year-old children from the Pro Children study
Background: The importance of family meals to the consumption of healthful food choices has been stated in recent reviews. However, little information is available on barriers that interfere with regular family meal patterns during childhood.
Objective: Describe family meal patterns among 11-year-old children across Europe and identify correlates of irregular family breakfast and dinner consumption.
Design: Cross-sectional survey involving samples of 13,305 children from nine European countries in 2003.
Results: The proportions of children who regularly ate family breakfast and dinner were 62% and 90%, respectively. Correlates of irregular family breakfasts and dinners were less vegetable consumption, and irregular family breakfasts were associated with more television viewing. Social differences in the consumption of family breakfasts were observed.
Discussion: Strengths of this study are the large sample size and validated research method. Limitations are the cross-sectional design and self-reported data.
Conclusion: The majority of 11-year-old children regularly ate breakfast and dinner with their families. More television viewing and less vegetable consumption were associated with irregular family breakfasts and dinners, respectively. Social differences were observed in the regularity of family breakfasts. Promoting family meals across social class may lead to healthier eating and activity habits, sustainable at the population level.
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