Adolescents who eat with family eat healthierMarch 9th, 2009 - 12:04 pm ICT by IANS
Washington, March 9 (IANS) Adolescents who ate regularly with family members developed healthier meal patterns and diets, compared to counterparts without regular family meals, says a new study.
Data for the study were drawn from Project EAT, a population-based, longitudinal project designed to examine socioenvironmental, personal, and behavioural determinants of dietary intake and weight status among an ethnically diverse sample of adolescents.
Young adolescents completed classroom surveys and a questionnaire in 1998 and 1999 when they were about 12 to 13 years old (referred to as Time 1), and then completed a further round as middle adolescents five years later (Time 2). The study sample included 303 male and 374 female adolescents.
Regular family meals, defined as five or more meals together per week, declined over time. Sixty percent of youth had regular family meals during early adolescence compared to 30 percent during middle adolescence.
Having regular family meals at both Time 1 and Time 2 was associated with greater frequency of consuming breakfast and dinner meals and increased intakes of vegetables, calcium-rich food, dietary fibre, and several nutrients including calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc five years later.
An important finding is that although adolescents with regular family meals at both Time 1 and Time 2 had better diet quality, on average, overall dietary adequacy was not achieved for the entire study sample. The study was conducted by School of Public Health, University of Minnesota (U-M) researchers.
These finding are consistent with current national consumption data that identified dietary intake of fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, potassium, magnesium, vitamin E, and dietary fiber as problematic for this age group, said an U-M release.
These findings were published in the latest issue of Journal of Nutrition Education and Behaviour.
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