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Research Project: Childhood Obesity Prevention

Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Feeding styles and evening family meals among recent immigrants

Author
item Tovar, Alison - University Of Rhode Island
item Hennessy, Erin - National Cancer Institute (NCI, NIH)
item Must, Aviva - Tufts University
item Hughes, Sheryl - Children's Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
item Gute, David - Tufts University
item Sliwa, Sarah - Friedman School Of Nutrition
item Boulos, Rebecca - Friedman School Of Nutrition
item Kuross-vikre, Emily - Friedman School Of Nutrition
item Luongo-kamins, Christina - Friedman School Of Nutrition
item Tofuri, Kerline - Friedman School Of Nutrition
item Pirie, Alex - Immigrant Service Providers Group/health
item Economos, Christina - Friedman School Of Nutrition

Submitted to: International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/11/2013
Publication Date: 6/26/2013
Citation: Tovar, A., Hennessy, E., Must, A., Hughes, S.O., Gute, D.M., Sliwa, S., Boulos, R.J., Kuross-Vikre, E., Luongo-Kamins, C., Tofuri, K., Pirie, A., Economos, C.D. 2013. Feeding styles and evening family meals among recent immigrants. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 10:84.

Interpretive Summary: The protective effect of family meals on unhealthy weight gain and diet has been shown across multiple age groups; however, it is unknown whether a similar effect is present among diverse immigrant populations. In addition, little research has focused on factors associated with the frequency of evening family meals, such as feeding styles (how parents interact with their child around feeding). Therefore the goals of this paper are to explore the 1) association between the frequency of evening family meals and child weight status among new immigrant families, and 2) influence of immigrant mothers' feeding styles on the frequency of evening family meals. It was found that evening family meals are protective against child overweight and obesity in this sample of immigrant families. This suggests that providing more structure and routine around mealtime may help promote healthy family practices.

Technical Abstract: The protective effect of family meals on unhealthy weight gain and diet has been shown across multiple age groups; however, it is unknown whether a similar effect is present among diverse immigrant populations. In addition, little research has focused on factors associated with the frequency of evening family meals, such as feeding styles (how parents interact with their child around feeding). Therefore the goals of this paper are to explore the 1) association between the frequency of evening family meals and child weight status among new immigrant families, and 2) influence of immigrant mothers' feeding styles on the frequency of evening family meals. Baseline self-reported socio-demographic information and measured heights and weights were collected for both mother and child (age range: 3–12 years) among 387 mother-child dyads enrolled in Live Well, a community-based, participatory-research, randomized controlled lifestyle intervention to prevent excessive weight gain in recent immigrant mothers and children. Frequency of evening family meals, eating dinner in front of the TV, acculturation and responses to the caregiver's Feeding Styles Questionnaire were also obtained from the mother. Overall, 20% of children were overweight and 25% were obese. Less than half of families had regular evening family meals. Future interventions and programs that seek to help parents establish healthy household routines, such as family meals, may consider tailoring to specific maternal feeding styles.