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J Adolesc Health. 2003 May;32(5):365-73.

Influences on adolescent eating patterns: the importance of family meals.

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Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA.



To provide national estimates of the frequency and determinants of adolescents' consumption of fruits, vegetables, and dairy foods.


Analyses were based on 18,177 adolescents in the first interview of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Multivariate logistic regressions provide estimates of the unique contribution of sociodemographic characteristics, body weight perception, and parental influences on adolescent food consumption.


Almost one in five adolescents reported skipping breakfast the previous day. A large percentage of adolescents reported eating less than the recommended amount of vegetables (71%), fruits (55%), and dairy foods (47%). Adolescents with better-educated parents had better consumption patterns than those with less-educated parents. Consumption patterns differed significantly by race. Adolescents who perceived themselves to be overweight were significantly more likely to have poor consumption patterns. Parental presence at the evening meal was associated with a lower risk of poor consumption of fruits, vegetables, and diary foods as well as the likelihood of skipping breakfast.


Parental presence at the evening meal is positively associated with adolescents' higher consumption of fruits, vegetables, and dairy foods. Nutrition and health professionals should educate parents about the role of family mealtimes for healthy adolescent nutrition.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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