Family meals then and now: A qualitative investigation of intergenerational transmission of family meal practices in a racially/ethnically diverse and immigrant population.
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Appetite, ISSN: 1095-8304, Vol: 121, Page: 163-172
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Having frequent family meals has consistently been associated with better health outcomes in children/adolescents. It is important to identify how intergenerational transmission of family meal practices occurs to help families benefit from the protective nature of family meals. Limited studies exist that explore the intergenerational transmission of family meal practices, particularly among racially/ethnically diverse and immigrant populations. This study explores how parents describe differences and similarities between meals "then" and "now", lessons they learned as children about family meals, lessons they passed onto their children, the challenges of carrying out family meals, and how families handle the barriers/challenges to intergenerational transmission of family meal practices. The study was conducted with a sample of African American, Native American, Latino, Hmong, Somali, and White families (25/category). Qualitative themes were explored with the overall sample, by race/ethnicity, immigrant status, and by time in the United States (US) as an immigrant. Parents overwhelmingly reported learning as children that family meals were important and conveying this message to their own children. Differences existed among racial/ethnic groups and time in the US as an immigrant. For example, Somali parents frequently endorsed having no challenges with intergenerational transmission of family meal practices. Immigrant parents in the US for a longer period of time were more likely to endorse learning/teaching about family meal importance, that the food eaten now is different than growing up, that a chaotic environment is a challenge to having family meals, and that they accommodate family member's schedules when planning family meals. Results demonstrate that exploring a parent's early family meal experiences may be important when intervening with parents from diverse racial/ethnic and immigrant populations when trying to improve or increase family meal practices.