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Open Access Research article

Parental food-related behaviors and family meal frequencies: associations in Norwegian dyads of parents and preadolescent children

Elisabeth L Melbye1*, Torvald Øgaard2, Nina C Øverby3 and Håvard Hansen1

Author Affiliations

1 University of Stavanger, UiS Business School, Stavanger 4036, Norway

2 University of Stavanger, Norwegian School of Hotel Management, Stavanger 4036, Norway

3 University of Agder, Department of Public Health, Sport and Nutrition, PO Box 422, Kristiansand 4604, Norway

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:820  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-820

Published: 10 September 2013



Frequent family meals are associated with healthy dietary behaviors and other desirable outcomes in children and adolescents. Therefore, increased knowledge about factors that may increase the occurrence of family meals is warranted. The present study has its focus on the home food environment, and aims to explore potential associations between parent-reported feeding behaviors and child-reported family meal frequencies.


Cross-sectional surveys were performed among 10-12-year-olds and their parents recruited from eighteen schools in southwest Norway. The child questionnaire included measures of family meal frequencies (breakfast, dinner and supper). The parent questionnaire included measures of parental feeding behaviors adapted from the Comprehensive Feeding Practices Questionnaire. A series of multiple linear regression analyses were conducted to examine the relationships between parental feeding behaviors and the frequency of family meals.


The frequency of family breakfasts was associated with three parental feeding variables; home environment (β=.11, p<.05), pressure to eat (β=.11, p<.01), and monitoring (β=.10, p<.05). The frequency of family dinners and suppers was associated with one parental feeding variable; home environment (β=.11, p<.01 and β=.12, p<.01 for dinners and suppers respectively).


The home environment variable was the most important correlate of child-reported family meal frequencies in this study. Although further research is needed, our findings support the evident influence of parents and the home food environment on child and adolescent eating behavior, which in the present study was measured as the frequency of shared family meals.

Child eating; Family meals; Feeding practices; Home food environment