Parent-child mealtime interactions in racially/ethnically diverse families with preschool-age children

Angela Kong, Blake L. Jones, Barbara H. Fiese, Linda A. Schiffer, Angela Odoms-Young, Yoonsang Kim, Lauren Bailey, Marian L. Fitzgibbon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Family meals may improve diet and weight outcomes in children; however, results from nationally representative samples suggest that these relationships vary by race/ethnicity. Observing parent-child mealtime interactions may lend insight to why racial/ethnic differences exist. In this pilot study, a multi-ethnic sample of low-income families (. n=. 30) with a preschool-age child was videotaped during a dinner in their home. A global coding scheme was used to assess the following: '. Action' (behaviors that divert attention from eating), '. Behavior Control' (behaviors intended to modify another person's behavior), and '. Communication' (i.e., meal-oriented, interpersonal, and critical). All families spent a significant amount of time in 'action' oriented behaviors that diverted their attention from eating. We also observed racial/ethnic differences in communication (i.e. critical) and behavior patterns (i.e. behavior control). This study demonstrated that this approach for observing parent-child mealtime interactions in a naturalistic setting among a diverse study sample was feasible; however, future studies should address how these patterns relate to dietary intake and weight status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)451-455
Number of pages5
JournalEating Behaviors
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • African-American
  • Eating behavior
  • Family
  • Hispanic
  • Obesity
  • Preschool

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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