Family Meal Frequency, Diet, and Family Functioning: A Systematic Review With Meta-analyses

Shannon M Robson*, Mary Beth McCullough, Samantha Rex, Marcus R Munafò, Gemma Taylor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: To examine the direction and magnitude of the relation between family meal frequency and dietary and family functioning outcomes in children (aged 2-18 years).

DESIGN: Systematic literature review with meta-analysis.

METHODS: Independent electronic searches, 1 for each outcome of interest, were conducted across 5 databases: PubMed, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Web of Science, Scopus, and PsycINFO. Studies were included if they were peer-reviewed and published in English in the US through December 2018.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Diet and family functioning.

RESULTS: Dietary outcomes showed some evidence of a positive association between family meal frequency and fruits, vegetables, fruits and vegetables, sugar-sweetened beverages, and the Healthy Eating Index. There was less clear evidence of this relation in snacks, fast food, and desserts. A positive association was found between family meal frequency or dinner family meal frequency and family functioning outcomes. All studies included had cross-sectional and longitudinal study designs.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: There is some evidence to show a positive relation between family meal frequency and dietary outcomes. There is stronger evidence for the relation with family functioning outcomes. Most articles included in the systematic reviews were excluded from meta-analysis owing to inadequate data and high methodological diversity across exposure and outcome variables.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Early online date23 Jan 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Jan 2020

Structured keywords

  • Physical and Mental Health
  • Nutrition and Behaviour


  • family meal frequency
  • diet outcomes
  • family functioning
  • dinner family meal
  • eating behavior

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