Do organized activities, like sports, interfere with family meals?

News from the Center for Child and Family Health Promotion Research

March 26, 2020

In order to better understand whether parents perceive child participation in organized activities, like sports, as interfering with family meals, Center Director Jayne Fulkerson, PhD, collaborated with researchers in the School of Public Health and School of Medicine.

Family meals have been shown to be associated with healthier dietary intake and stronger academics among children. Survey data collected in 2015-2016 as part of the Project EAT (Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults) study were analyzed. Specifically, the survey data of 389 parents who had one or more children involved in an organized activity was analyzed. Approximately 33% of households included a child ages 2-5 years and no older child; two-thirds of households had at least one school-aged child (6-18 years).

Findings showed organized activity interference was associated with greater difficulty scheduling family meals, lower family meal frequency and more fast food intake among parents.

Parents who reported child involvement in both sport and non-sport activities were more likely to report moderate to high activity interference in family meals. Participation in organized activities represented a barrier to family meals for more than 1 in 5 families with a school-age child. More research is needed to identify factors of child participation in organized activities such as scheduled time of day that specifically interfere with family meals; qualitative research might be particularly useful.

Do Parents Perceive That Organized Activities Interfere with Family Meals? Associations between Parent Perceptions and Aspects of the Household Eating Environment was accepted in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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