Do family meals affect childhood overweight or obesity?: nationwide survey 2008–2012

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Abstract

Background:

The prevalence of childhood obesity is increasing worldwide and this trend is no exception for South Korea. A multidisciplinary approach is needed for the prevention and management of childhood obesity. To do so, among many other strategies, managing the family unit can be a very effective strategy.

Objectives:

The purpose of this study was to identify the relationship between frequency of family meals and overweight/obesity in elementary students and to suggest the management and prevention strategies of childhood obesity.

Methods:

Data from a total of 2904 elementary students were analyzed from the 2008–2012 Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to examine the association between overweight/obesity and family meals.

Results:

Of the total 2904 elementary students, 573 (19.4%) were overweight or obese. The odds ratio of overweight or obese students who had family dinner only was 1.21 (95% CI: 0.89–1.64), that of those who had family breakfast only was 3.20 (95% CI: 1.70–6.02), and that of those who had neither family breakfast nor family dinner was 4.17 (95% CI: 1.98–8.78) compared with those who had both family breakfast and family dinner.

Conclusions:

The frequency of family meals was strongly an inverse association with childhood overweight or obesity. Therefore, we suggest that the intervention of childhood obesity should include family meals.

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