Public Health Nutrition

Research Article

Fast food for family meals: relationships with parent and adolescent food intake, home food availability and weight status

Kerri N Boutellea1 c1, Jayne A Fulkersona2, Dianne Neumark-Sztainera1a2, Mary Storya1a2 and Simone A Frencha2

a1 Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Health, Department of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota, 200 Oak Street SE, Suite 160, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA

a2 Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA


Objective The purpose of the present study was to examine the prevalence of fast-food purchases for family meals and the associations with sociodemographic variables, dietary intake, home food environment, and weight status in adolescents and their parents.

Design This study is a cross-sectional evaluation of parent interviews and adolescent surveys from Project EAT (Eating Among Teens).

Subjects Subjects included 902 middle-school and high-school adolescents (53% female, 47% male) and their parents (89% female, 11% male). The adolescent population was ethnically diverse: 29% white, 24% black, 21% Asian American, 14% Hispanic and 12% other.

Results Results showed that parents who reported purchasing fast food for family meals at least 3 times per week were significantly more likely than parents who reported purchasing fewer fast-food family meals to report the availability of soda pop and chips in the home. Adolescents in homes with fewer than 3 fast-food family meals per week were significantly more likely than adolescents in homes with more fast-food family meals to report having vegetables and milk served with meals at home. Fast-food purchases for family meals were positively associated with the intake of fast foods and salty snack foods for both parents and adolescents; and weight status among parents. Fast-food purchases for family meals were negatively associated with parental vegetable intake.

Conclusions Fast-food purchases may be helpful for busy families, but families need to be educated on the effects of fast food for family meals and how to choose healthier, convenient family meals.

(Received February 24 2005)

(Accepted February 13 2006)


c1 * Corresponding author: Email