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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2006 Dec;14(12):2266-76.

Frequency of family dinner and adolescent body weight status: evidence from the national longitudinal survey of youth, 1997.

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Department of Healthcare Organization and Policy, University of Alabama at Birmingham, RPHB 330, 1665 University Blvd., Birmingham, AL 35294, USA.



To explore associations between overweight status and the frequency of family dinners (FFD) for adolescents and how those associations differ across race and ethnicity.


A sample of 5014 respondents between 12 and 15 years of age from the 1997 wave of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY97) was used. BMI was calculated using self-reported height and weight; 13.3% of respondents qualified as overweight, 16.4% qualified as at-risk-of-overweight, and 1.9% qualified as underweight. The remainder were normal weight. FFD was defined as the number of times respondents had dinner with their families in a typical week in the past year. Multinomial logistic regression models were estimated separately for non-Hispanic whites vs. blacks and Hispanics for odds of belonging to the other weight categories compared with normal weight. A supplementary longitudinal analysis estimated the odds of change in overweight status between 1997 and 2000.


In 1997, the FFD distribution was as follows: 0, 8.3%; 1 or 2, 7.3%; 3 or 4, 13.4%; 5 or 6, 28.1%; 7, 42%. For whites, higher FFD was associated with reduced odds of being overweight in 1997, reduced odds of becoming overweight, and increased odds of ceasing to be overweight by 2000. No such associations were found for blacks and Hispanics.


Reasons for racial and ethnic differences in the relationship between FFD and overweight may include differences in the types and portions of food consumed at family meals. More research is needed to verify this.

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