Dinner Rituals that Correlate with Child and Adult BMI

Obesity 22.5 (2014): E91-E95.

17 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2014

Date Written: August 27, 2013


Objective: What predicts whether a child will be at risk for obesity? Whereas past research has focused on foods and eating habits, this study departs from a food-centric approach to examine how various dinner rituals might influence the BMIs of children and adults.

Methods: In this study of 190 parents (BMI=29.1 ± 7.2) and 148 children (BMI=20.3 ± 4.4), the relationship between their BMIs and everyday family dinner rituals was examined using both correlation and regression analysis (controlled for educational level of parents).

Results: Families who frequently ate dinner in the kitchen or dining room had significantly lower BMIs for both adults (r=-.31) and children (r=-.24) compared to families who ate elsewhere. Additionally, helping cook dinner was associated with higher BMI for girls (r=.26), and remaining at the table until everyone is finished with eating was associated with lower BMI for boys (r=-.31).

Conclusions: Dinner tables may be one place where social support and family involvement meet – both of which relate to the BMI of children as well as parents. Family meals and their rituals might be an unappropriated battleground to fight obesity.

Suggested Citation

Wansink, Brian and van Kleef, Ellen, Dinner Rituals that Correlate with Child and Adult BMI (August 27, 2013). Obesity 22.5 (2014): E91-E95., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2473217

Brian Wansink (Contact Author)

Cornell University ( email )

607-319-0123 (Phone)

Ellen Van Kleef

Wageningen UR ( email )

Hollandseweg 1

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