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J Fam Psychol. 2014 Aug;28(4):577-82. doi: 10.1037/fam0000014. Epub 2014 Jul 7.

Frequency of family meals and 6-11-year-old children's social behaviors.

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Department of Nutritional Sciences.
Department of Rehabilitation Sciences.
Department of Human Development and Family Science, Oklahoma State University.


Family meals are regarded as an opportunity to promote healthy child development. In this brief report, we examined the relationship between frequency of family meals and children's social behaviors in 6-11-year-olds. The 2007 U.S. National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH) provided data on the frequency of family meals in a sample of 6-11-year-old children (N = 24,167). The following social behavior indicators were examined: child positive social skills, child problematic social behaviors, child engagement in school, and parental aggravation with the child. Individual logistic regression analyses were calculated in unadjusted and adjusted models. On average, families had 5.3 meals together per week. In adjusted models, more frequent family meals increased the odds of child positive social skills (OR = 1.08, 95% CI [1.02, 1.16]) and child engagement in school (OR = 1.11, 95% CI [1.06, 1.15]), and decreased the likelihood of child problematic social behaviors (OR = 0.92, 95% CI [0.87, 0.98]). There was no association between frequency of family meals and parental aggravation with the child (OR = 0.98, 95% CI [0.93, 1.04]). Findings support the promotion of family meals to benefit children's development of healthy social behaviors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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