Family meals and disordered eating in adolescents: Are the benefits the same for everyone?

Authors

  • Katie Loth PhD, MPH, RD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota
    2. Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota, Minnesota 55454
    • Correspondence to: Katie Loth, PhD, MPH, RD; University of Minnesota, School of Public Health, 1300 South Second Street Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55455. E-mail: fall0075@umn.edu

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  • Melanie Wall PhD,

    1. Department of Biostatistics, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, New York
    2. Department of Biostatistics, Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene and New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, New York
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  • Chien-Wen Choi MS,

    1. Department of Biostatistics, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, New York
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  • Michaela Bucchianeri PhD,

    1. Department of Psychological Science, Gustavus Adolphus
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  • Virginia Quick PhD, RD,

    1. Department of Health Sciences, James Madison University
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  • Nicole Larson PhD, MPH, RDN,

    1. Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota
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  • Dianne Neumark-Sztainer PhD, MPH, RD

    1. Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota
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  • This article was published online on 06 August 2014. An error was subsequently identified. This notice is included in the online and print versions to indicate that both have been corrected 22 December 2014.

  • Supported by R01HL084064 and RO1HL093247-02 (PI: Neumark-Sztainer) from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Katie Loth's time was funded by Grant T32 MH082761-01 from the National Institute of Mental Health.

ABSTRACT

Objective

To examine the association between family meals and disordered eating behaviors within a diverse sample of adolescents and further investigate whether family-level variables moderate this association.

Method

Data from adolescents (EAT 2010: Eating and Activity in Teens) and their parents (Project F-EAT: Families and Eating and Activity among Teens) were collected in 2009–2010. Surveys were completed by 2,382 middle and high school students (53.2% girls, mean age = 14.4 years) from Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, public schools. Parents/guardians (n = 2,792) completed surveys by mail or phone.

Results

Greater frequency of family meals was associated with decreased odds of engaging in unhealthy weight control behaviors in boys, and dieting, unhealthy and extreme weight control behaviors in girls. Results indicate that the protective effects of family meals are, in general, robust to family-level variables; 64 interactions were examined and only seven were statistically significant. For example, among girls, the protective nature of family meals against dieting and unhealthy weight control behaviors was diminished if they also reported family weight-related teasing (both p < .01).

Discussion

The results confirmed previous research indicating that participation in family meals is protective against disordered eating for youth, particularly girls. However, results suggest that in some cases, the protection offered by family meals may be modified by family-level variables. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2015; 48:100–110)

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