Online Program

Epidemiology of family meals in Ohio: Comparing families with children to adult-only families

Monday, November 4, 2013

Rachel Tumin, MS, College of Public Health, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Sarah Anderson, PhD, Division of Epidemiology, The Ohio State University College of Public Health, Columbus, OH
Introduction: Family meals are an important family practice associated with positive health outcomes for children and adults. Prior research has focused on families with children, but an increasing proportion of families include only adults (e.g. couples without children or parents with grown children). Understanding whether adult-only families eat meals together with the same prevalence as families with children can inform public health recommendations.

Methods: The 2012 Ohio Medicaid Assessment Survey, a dual-frame random-digit-dial telephone survey, collects health and demographic data on Ohio's noninstitutionalized population. Trained interviewers surveyed 22,929 adults age 19 and older, including 8,589 from adult-only families and 6,260 from families with children. Respondents reported the number of days in the past week when they ate a meal with their family at home. These data support weighted, population-level estimates of family meal frequency for both family types overall and in subsamples defined by respondent age or race/ethnicity.

Results: Ohio's adult-only families eat meals together at home more often than do families with children: 51.2% (CI 49.8, 52.6) of adult-only families, compared to 47.5% (CI 45.9, 49.0) of families with children, ate a family meal 6-7 days in the past week. The subsample analysis provided evidence of effect modification by respondent age and race/ethnicity.

Discussion: Adult-only families in Ohio eat meals together regularly, supporting the inclusion of adult-only families when evaluating family meal practices. Future research should examine why family meal frequency varies by family member characteristics and if adult-only families experience different associations between family meal frequency and health.

Learning Areas:


Learning Objectives:
Compare the frequency of family meals among adult-only families to the frequency among families with children.

Keyword(s): Food and Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I completed all of the data analysis for the project and have professional and academic experience analyzing complex health survey data. My PhD dissertation focuses on family meals and I am therefore familiar with this area of research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.