Racial and Ethnic Differences in Longitudinal Patterns of Family Mealtimes: Link to Adolescent Fruit and Vegetable Consumption

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Abstract

Objective:

To examine the longitudinal patterns of family mealtimes across racial/ethnic groups and to investigate whether the associations between longitudinal patterns of family mealtimes, baseline family and demographic characteristics, and healthy food consumption in adolescence differ by race/ethnicity.

Methods:

Data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study spanning from kindergarten to eighth grade were used for this study. Longitudinal patterns of family mealtimes and their link to baseline characteristics and healthy food consumption in adolescence, as defined by fruit and vegetable intakes, were determined using latent growth curves.

Results:

From childhood to adolescence, family mealtimes were stable among Asian families. Although Hispanic families displayed a downward pattern, mealtimes declined more steeply in non-Hispanic white and black families. The links among family mealtimes, baseline characteristics, and healthy food consumption were not observed equally across racial/ethnic groups.

Conclusions and Implications:

Differences in longitudinal patterns of family mealtimes and in the association between family mealtimes and adolescent healthy food consumption across racial/ethnic groups call for targeted intervention in this nutritionally vulnerable period.

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