Making Fast Food a Family Dinner Limits Access to Healthy Food and Increases Risk of Obesity, New Study Finds
whose meals frequently consist of fast food are more likely to have
unhealthy eating habits, poor access to healthy foods at home, and a
higher risk for obesity, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota
home food environment of families who ate fast food for dinner more
than three times a week consisted of more chips and soda pop and less
fruits and vegetables than families who ate fast food less than three
times a week, the study found.á A higher frequency of fast
dinners was also associated with obesity and a higher body mass index
(BMI) in adults.
"Fast food can be a
convenient alternative to cooking for busy families," said Kerri
lead author and assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of
Minnesota Medical School.á "But, frequently making fast food
family meal can negatively affect food choices in the house and the
overall health of the family."
study is part of Project EAT: Eating Among Teens, a comprehensive study
of obesity and nutrition among adolescents in the Minneapolis/St. Paul
metro area.á It was designed to examine the prevalence of
food purchases for family meals and the association between eating fast
food for dinner and home food availability, dietary intake, and weight
status. Out of the 4,746 adolescents that completed surveys for Project
EAT, 902 were also selected to have their parents interviewed for this
percent of families surveyed reported eating fast food as a family meal
one to two times a week.á Seven percent said they had fast
for dinner three to four times a week.
teens and parents, higher frequency of fast food meals was associated
with eating significantly fewer fruits and vegetables and drinking less
milk.á More fast food around the dinner table also meant
shelves were stocked with more salty snacks and soda, creating poor
access to healthy foods at home.á Parents who ate fast food
often were more likely to be overweight than those who ate it less.
are other options for fast meals that can be prepared at home and
contain healthy foods, such as vegetables," said Boutelle. "Limiting
fast food intake at home is one way families can attempt to improve
eating habits and the overall health of the family."
EAT: Eating Among Teens was designed to investigate the factors
influencing the eating habits of adolescents, to determine if youth are
meeting national dietary recommendations, and to explore dieting and
physical activity patterns among youth. The project strives to build a
greater understanding of the socioeconomic, personal, and behavioral
factors associated with diet and weight-related behavior during
adolescence so more effective nutrition interventions can be developed.
The study was published in
the January 2007 issue of Public Health Nutrition,
and was supported by the Maternal and Child Health Program, Health
Resources and Services Administration, and the Department of Health and
Academic Health Center is home to the University of Minnesota's six
health professional schools and colleges as well as several
health-related centers and institutes.
of Minnesota Academic Health Center