Exploring the role of family functioning in the association between family dinner frequency and dietary intake among adolescents and young adults
2018-10-15T10:59:40Z (GMT) by
Importance: Eating meals, particularly dinner, with family members has been associated with improved dietary intake among youth. However, existing studies have not examined how family functioning may moderate or confound this association. Objective: To examine whether level of family functioning is associated cross-sectionally with family dinner frequency and dietary intake among a national sample of adolescents and young adults. Methods: Linear regression models were used to examine the extent to which family dinner frequency was associated with self-reported intake of fruit and vegetables, sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB), fast food and take-out food. To explore effect modification by family functioning, an interaction term for family functioning and family dinner frequency was included for each dietary outcome. To explore confounding, models adjusted for family functioning were run. All models were stratified by sex and included participant age, educational attainment of mother’s spouse/partner and family structure as covariates. Analyses for this manuscript were conducted between 2017 and 2018. Results: Participants were 1 559 female and 1 169 males participating in the U.S. Growing Up Today Study 2 (GUTS2) who were 14-24 years old and living with their parents in 2011. The majority of participants identified as White (92.6%). More frequent family dinners were associated with higher quality dietary intake regardless of level of family functioning; interactions between family functioning and family dinner frequency were non-significant. Associations between family meal frequency and dietary intake outcomes did not change substantively when adjusting for family functioning. In adjusted models, more frequent family dinners were associated with higher intakes of fruits (females: = 0.09 servings/day, CI= 0.04, 0.15; males: = 0.07 servings/day, CI= 0.01, 0.12) and vegetables (females: = 0.21 servings/day, CI= 0.12, 0.30; males: = 0.19 servings/day, CI= 0.09, 0.30), and lower intakes of fast food (females: = -0.04 times/week, CI= -0.07, 0.00; males: = -0.10 times/week, C= -0.15,-0.04) and take-out foods (females: = -0.04 times/week, CI= -0.07,-0.01; males: = -0.06 times/week, CI= -0.10,-0.02). More frequent family dinners were associated with lower intakes of SSBs for males only (= -0.07 servings/day, CI= -0.13, -0.02). Conclusions: More frequent family dinners are associated with healthful dietary intakes among youth, regardless of level of family functioning. Family dinners may be an appropriate intervention target for improving dietary intake among youth.