Engaging in family meals starts with healthy family communication

Patients in weight management or weight loss programs were more likely to eat family meals together when they had good communication and low discouragement at home, according to the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior


Philadelphia, June 8, 2020

Engaging in family meals may be a matter of improving communication and support at home. A new study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, published by Elsevier, connects less family discouragement and better family communication with a higher likelihood to eat evening family meals and family breakfasts together, and not in front of a television.

Researchers studied 259 parents who were also patients at either The Ohio State University or Wake Forest University accredited weight management and bariatric surgery facilities. They found parents who had better family communication and lower discouragement about trying to improve their eating habits were more likely to participate in family meals.

"It's important to note all family members in the home have influence,” lead study author Keeley J. Pratt, PhD, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA, said of the findings that any family member can influence the adoption and maintenance of healthy patterns and behaviors in the home. "Even if someone doesn’t have the most power to influence the family (like children), they are all influencing each other."

Previous research has shown parental obesity is typically the strongest risk factor for children to have an obese weight status over time. The study’s authors also found parents who perceived their child to be overweight or obese were more than four times as likely to talk to them about the child’s weight, also called “weight talk.”

While open communication with children about health is beneficial, "it's important to ensure communication directly about children's weight is not harmful in their development of a healthy body image and behaviors. That includes older children and adolescents who are at greater risk of developing eating disorders and disordered eating behaviors,” Professor Pratt said.

There was no significant difference between male and female children in this study other than families with female children were more likely to eat dinner together without a television five to seven times a week. Families with younger children, regardless of gender, were more likely to eat family dinners and breakfasts together, and parents of older children were more likely to talk about their own weight with the child.

This was the first study specifically looking at family meal practices among adult patients enrolled in weight-management or weight-loss surgery programs.

"Understanding these associations will provide essential evidence needed to design future family-based interventions for these patients to help in their behavior change and weight loss, prevent the onset of obesity in children, and enhance positive family meal practices and healthy communication about weight,” Professor Pratt said.

---

Notes for editors
The article is "Family Meal Practices and Weight Talk Between Adult Weight Management and Weight Loss Surgery Patients and Their Children," by Keely J. Pratt, PhD; Joseph A. Skelton, MD, MS; Kristina H. Lewis, MD; Chris A. Taylor, PhD; Colleen Spees, PhD; and Callie L. Brown, MD (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneb.2020.04.001). It appears in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, volume 52, issue 6 (June 2020), published by Elsevier.

Full text of the article is available to credentialed journalists upon request; contact Eileen Leahy at 732 238 3628 or jnebmedia@elsevier.com to obtain a copy. To schedule an interview with the author(s), please contact Keely J. Pratt, PhD, at pratt.192@osu.edu.

An audio podcast featuring an interview with Professor Pratt and other information for journalists are available at www.jneb.org/content/podcast. Excerpts from the podcast may be reproduced by the media with permission from Eileen Leahy.

About the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (JNEB)
The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (JNEB), the official journal of the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB), is a refereed, scientific periodical that serves as a resource for all professionals with an interest in nutrition education and dietary/physical activity behaviors. The purpose of JNEB is to document and disseminate original research, emerging issues, and practices relevant to nutrition education and behavior worldwide and to promote healthy, sustainable food choices. It supports the society’s efforts to disseminate innovative nutrition education strategies, and communicate information on food, nutrition, and health issues to students, professionals, policy makers, targeted audiences, and the public.

The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior features articles that provide new insights and useful findings related to nutrition education research, practice, and policy. The content areas of JNEB reflect the diverse interests of health, nutrition, education, Cooperative Extension, and other professionals working in areas related to nutrition education and behavior. As the Society's official journal, JNEB also includes occasional policy statements, issue perspectives, and member communications. www.jneb.org

About Elsevier
Elsevier is a global information analytics business that helps scientists and clinicians to find new answers, reshape human knowledge, and tackle the most urgent human crises. For 140 years, we have partnered with the research world to curate and verify scientific knowledge. Today, we’re committed to bringing that rigor to a new generation of platforms. Elsevier provides digital solutions and tools in the areas of strategic research management, R&D performance, clinical decision support, and professional education; including ScienceDirect, Scopus, SciVal, ClinicalKey and Sherpath. Elsevier publishes over 2,500 digitized journals, including The Lancet and Cell, 39,000 e-book titles and many iconic reference works, including Gray's Anatomy. Elsevier is part of RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers. www.elsevier.com

Media contact
Eileen Leahy
Elsevier
+1 732 238 3628
jnebmedia@elsevier.com