Family meals and eating practices among mothers in Santos, Brazil: A population-based study

Priscila de Morais Sato, Bárbara Hatzlhoffer Lourenço, Angela Cristina Bizzotto Trude, Ramiro Fernandez Unsain, Patrícia Rocha Pereira, Paula Andrea Martins, Fernanda Baeza Scagliusi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigates family meals among mothers and explores associations between eating with family and sociodemographic characteristics, body mass index, and eating practices. A population-based cross-sectional study, using complex cluster-sampling, was conducted in the city of Santos, Brazil with 439 mothers. Frequency of family meals was assessed by asking if mothers did or did not usually have a) breakfast, b) lunch, and c) dinner with family. Linear regression analyses were conducted for the number of meals eaten with family per day and each of the potential explanatory variables, adjusting for the mother's age. Poisson regression with robust variance was used to analyze each factor associated with eating with family as classified categorically: a) sharing meals with family, b) not eating any meals with family. Only 16.4% (n = 72) of participants did not eat any meals with family. From the 83.6% (n = 367) of mothers that had at least one family meal per day, 69.70% (n = 306) ate dinner with their families. Mothers aged ≥40 years reported significantly fewer meals eaten with family compared to mothers aged 30-39 years (β: -0.26, p = 0.04). Having family meals was 54% more prevalent among mothers with ≥12 years of education (PR for no meals eaten with family: 0.54, 95% CI: 0.30; 0.96, p = 0.03), when compared to mothers with less than nine years of education. Eating no meals with family was 85% more prevalent among mothers who reported that eating was one of the biggest pleasures in their lives (PR: 1.85, 95% CI: 1.21; 2.82, p = 0.004). We suggest the need for further research investigating the effects of family meals on mothers' health through nutritional and phenomenological approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-44
Number of pages7
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • Body mass index
  • Commensality
  • Eating practices
  • Family meals
  • Mothers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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