Diet Quality pp 89-100 | Cite as

Family Meals and Diet Quality

  • Sarah J. WoodruffEmail author
  • Rhona M. Hanning
Part of the Nutrition and Health book series (NH)


Nutrition behaviors of children have been known to track into adulthood [1, 2]; thus, it is important to develop healthy eating attitudes/behaviors at a young age. Health promotion professionals have looked for effective/easy/cost-effective strategies to support healthy eating in children and families. A social ecological perspective to health promotion recognizes that individuals can be influenced by their environment, including physical environments (e.g., home), and interpersonal relationships such as those within the family. Encouraging family dinners/meals has recently become a strong public health strategy to promote healthy eating (e.g., British Columbia Dairy Foundation’s Better Together, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution) and reduce potential unhealthy body weights (e.g., Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care report Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives, 2004, the American Medical Association Expert Committee Recommendations for Childhood Obesity). Interestingly, many countries (e.g., Malaysia, Thailand, Japan) promote family meals in their national food guide recommendations. For example, the Malaysian Nutrition Guide for Early Childhood Care suggests “making mealtimes an enjoyable experience,” and in Japan, “happy eating makes for happy family life; sit down and eat together and talk; treasure family taste and home cooking” is suggested. In North America, most health promotion recommendations include family dinner as a means to increase healthy eating behaviors; however, there is no reason to believe that the benefits of eating the evening meal together would differ from eating other meals (e.g., breakfast, lunch) and/or snacks together. This chapter will examine the associations between family meals and diet quality, including mediating factors and the potential impact on body weight status.


Diet quality Family meals Obesity prevention Television watching Body weight status 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of KinesiologyUniversity of WindsorWindsorCanada
  2. 2.School of Public Health and Health SystemsUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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