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BMC Public Health. 2019 Dec 10;19(1):1657. doi: 10.1186/s12889-019-7930-7.

Child diet and health outcomes of the simple suppers program: a 10-week, 2-group quasi-experimental family meals trial.

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Department of Human Sciences, The Ohio State University, 1787 Neil Ave, 313 Campbell Hall, Columbus, OH, 43210, USA.
Department of Human Sciences, The Ohio State University, 1787 Neil Ave, 313 Campbell Hall, Columbus, OH, 43210, USA.
Present Address: Department of Nutrition, Case Western Reserve University, 10900 Euclid Ave, Wood Building, Cleveland, OH, 44106, USA.
Department of Statistics, The Ohio State University, Columbus, USA.
Present Address: Information Control Company (ICC), 2500 Corporate Exchange Dr, Columbus, OH, 43231, USA.
Division of Epidemiology, The Ohio State University, 1841 Neil Avenue, Cunz Hall, Columbus, OH, 43210, USA.
Division of General and Community Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, University of Cincinnati, 3333 Burnet Avenue, Cincinnati, OH, 45229, USA.
Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, 408 Savage Hall, Ithaca, NY, 14853, USA.
Present Address: Food Directions, 1101 K St NW #650, Washington, DC, 20005, USA.
Present Address: Albany Medical Center, 43 New Scotland Ave, Albany, NY, 12208, USA.



Racial minority children, particularly from low-income households, are at risk for obesity. Family meals have a protective effect on child nutritional health. However, the current evidence is limited in racial and socioeconomic diversity. The objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of a family meals intervention, Simple Suppers, on improvements in diet and health outcomes from baseline (T0) to post-intervention (T1) in intervention compared to waitlist control participants, and determine retention of change in outcomes among intervention participants at 10-week follow-up (T2).


Simple Suppers was a 10-week family meals intervention implemented as a 2-group quasi-experimental trial. Ten 90-min lessons were delivered weekly. Data were collected at T0 and T1, and from intervention participants at T2. Participants were racially diverse 4-10 year-old children from low-income households. Setting was a faith-based community center. Main outcomes were daily servings of fruit, vegetables, and sugar-sweetened beverages and diet quality; z-scores for body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, systolic and diastolic blood pressure (BP); weight status categories; food preparation skills; and family meals (frequency of dinner, breakfast, TV viewing during meals, meals in dining area). Generalized linear mixed models (GLMMs) and mixed-effects ordinal regression models were used to assess intervention impact (T0:T1). Paired t-tests examined retention of change among intervention participants (T1:T2).


One hundred forty children enrolled and 126 completed T1 (90% retention); 71 of 87 intervention participants completed T2(79% retention). Mean (SD) age was 6.9(1.9) yr, 62% female, 60% Black, and 42% low-income. Intervention vs waitlist controls had higher food preparation skills (p < 0.001) and lower TV viewing during meals (p = 0.04) at T1.There were no group differences in dietary intake or quality or z-scores for BMI, waist circumference, or BP, however intervention versus waitlist controls experienced a greater change toward healthy weight (p = 0.04) At T2, intervention participants demonstrated a retention of improved food preparation skills.


Simple Suppers led to improvements in children's weight status, food preparation skills, and TV viewing during meals, but not diet or z-scores for BMI, waist circumference, or BP. Future research should examine the preventive effects of healthy family mealtime routines in children at greatest risk for obesity.


NCT02923050; Simple Suppers Scale-up (S3); Retrospectively registered on Oct 2016; First participant enrolled on Jan 2015.


Blood pressure; Childhood obesity; Family meals; Food preparation skills; Racial minority

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