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J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 Sep;110(9):1302-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2010.06.010.

Perceived benefits, barriers, and strategies of family meals among children with type 1 diabetes mellitus and their parents: focus-group findings.

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Division of Epidemiology, Statistics and Prevention, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, MD, USA.


Dietary management of type 1 diabetes mellitus has become much less restrictive and more flexible in recent years due to contemporary insulin regimens, which may afford families of children with type 1 diabetes mellitus greater ease in sharing family meals. Although these treatment advancements might facilitate family meals, overall demands of diabetes management can influence family's perceived or actual ability to do so. Youths with type 1 diabetes mellitus (ages 8 to 20 years) and parents participated in separate focus groups. Thirty-five youths with type 1 diabetes mellitus (mean age=15.1+/-3.6 years) and their parents participated in 21 focus groups (12 youth groups, nine parent groups). Although there was substantial variability in how often family meals occurred, both parents and youths consistently perceived family meals as valuable and enjoyable. The major barrier to family meals discussed by both youths and parents was busy schedules. Strategies for having family meals that were discussed by parents included shopping to ensure availability of the foods needed to prepare meals, planning, and cooking meals in advance, and using simplified cooking methods. These findings suggest that a family-focused approach to nutrition interventions in this population, as opposed to one targeting the child with diabetes only, can improve the chance for successful dietary change.

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