Family Food Preparation and Its Effects on Adolescent Dietary Quality and Eating Patterns



      The purpose of the study was to describe parent and adolescent involvement in food preparation for the family and to examine whether adolescents' food preparation involvement was related to their dietary quality (e.g., fruit and vegetable intake, sugar-sweetened beverage consumption, and various common nutrients) and eating patterns (e.g., frequency of breakfast, family meals, fast food intake).


      Data from two linked population-based studies, Eating and Activity in Teens 2010 and Families and Eating and Activity among Teens were used in cross-sectional analyses. Mothers (n = 1,875), stepmothers (n = 18), fathers (n = 977), stepfathers (n = 105), and adolescents (n = 2,108) from socioeconomically and racially/ethnically diverse households participated in the study. Adolescents completed food frequency questionnaires and surveys in school. Parents individually completed surveys by mail or phone. Linear regression was used to estimate differences in adolescent dietary quality and eating patterns between those who do and do not engage in meal preparation.


      Parent and adolescent report of “usually preparing food for the family” was related to several sociodemographic characteristics, including race/ethnicity (minority populations), parent education (college or higher), parent employment status (part time or stay-at-home caregiver), household size (≤3 children), and adolescent gender (female). Adolescent involvement in food preparation for the family was significantly associated with several markers of better dietary quality and better eating patterns. In contrast, parent involvement in food preparation for the family was unrelated to adolescent dietary intake.


      Results suggest that involving adolescents in food preparation for the family is related to better adolescent dietary quality and eating patterns. Public health interventions and health care providers may want to encourage adolescents to help with food preparation for the family. Additionally, adolescents may benefit from interventions/programs that teach cooking skills in order to increase the likelihood of participating in food preparation for the family.


      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Journal of Adolescent Health
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Larson N.I.
        • Perry C.L.
        • Story M.
        • Neumark-Sztainer D.
        Food preparation by young adults is associated with better diet quality.
        J Am Diet Assoc. 2006; 106: 2001-2007
        • Monsivais P.
        • Aggarwal A.
        • Drewnowski A.
        Time spent on home food preparation and indicators of healthy eating.
        Am J Prev Med. 2014; 47: 796-802
        • Woodruff S.J.
        • Kirby A.R.
        The associations among family meal frequency, food preparation frequency, self-efficacy for cooking, and food preparation techniques in children and adolescents.
        J Nutr Educ Behav. 2013; 45: 296-303
        • Laska M.N.
        • Larson N.
        • Neumark-Sztainer D.
        • Story M.
        Does involvement in food preparation track from adolescence to young adulthood and is it associated with better dietary quality? Findings from a 10-year longitudinal study.
        Public Health Nutr. 2011; 15: 1150-1158
        • Smith L.P.
        • Ng S.W.
        • Popkin B.M.
        Trends in US home food preparation and consumption: Analysis of national nutrition surveys and time use studies from 1965-1966 to 2007-2008.
        Nutr J. 2013; 12: 45
        • Harnack L.
        • Story M.
        • Martinson B.
        • et al.
        Guess who's cooking? The role of men in meal planning, shopping, and preparation in U.S. families.
        J Am Diet Assoc. 1998; 98: 995-1000
        • Galovan A.M.
        • Holmes E.K.
        • Schramm D.G.
        • Lee T.R.
        Father involvement, father-child relationship quality, and satisfaction with family work: Actor and partner influences in marital quality.
        J Fam Issues. 2014; 35: 1846-1867
        • Battle J.
        Longitudinal analysis of academic achievement among a nationwide sample of Hispanic students in one- versus two-parent households.
        Hispanic J Behav Sci. 2002; 24: 430-447
        • Cabrera N.
        • Tamis-Lemonda C.
        • Bradley R.
        • et al.
        Fatherhood in the 21st century.
        Child Development. 2000; 71: 127-136
        • Teitler J.O.
        Father involvement, child health, and maternal health behavior.
        Child Youth Serv. 2001; 23: 403-425
        • Allen S.A.
        • Daly K.
        The effects of father involvement: An updated research summary of the evidence.
        Father Involvement Research Alliance, Guelph, Ontario, Canada2007 (Available at: Accessed January 20, 2016.)
        • Reynolds T.
        Exploring the absent/present dilemma: Black fathers, family relationships, and social capital in Britain.
        Ann Am Acad Polit Social Sci. 2009; 624: 12-28
        • HOssain Z.
        • Chew B.
        • Swilling S.
        • et al.
        Fathers' participation in childcare within Navajo Indian families.
        Early Child Development Care. 1999; 154: 63-74
        • Amato P.
        Father-child relationships, mother-child relationships, and offspring psychological well-being in early adulthood.
        J Marriage Fam. 1994; 56: 1031-1042
        • Bronte-Tinkew J.
        • Moore K.A.
        • Carrano J.
        The father-child relationship, parenting styles, and adolescent risk behaviors in intact families.
        J Fam Issues. 2006; 27: 850-881
        • Neumark-Sztainer D.
        • Eisenberg M.E.
        • Wall M.
        • Loth K.A.
        Yoga and pilates: Associations with body image and disordered-eating behaviors in a population-based sample of young adults.
        Int J Eat Disord. 2011; 44: 276-280
        • Neumark-Sztainer D.
        • Maclehose R.
        • Loth K.
        • et al.
        What's for dinner? Types of food served at family dinner differ across parent and family characteristics.
        Public Health Nutr. 2012; 17: 1-11
        • Neumark-Sztainer D.
        • Story M.
        • Ackard D.
        • et al.
        Family meals among adolescents: Findings from a pilot study.
        J Nutr Education. 2000; 32: 335-340
        • Berge J.M.
        • MacLehose R.F.
        • Loth K.
        • et al.
        Family meals: Associations with weight and eating behaviors among mothers and fathers.
        Appetite. 2012; 58: 1128-1135
        • Neumark-Sztainer D.
        • Story M.
        • Perry C.
        • Casey M.A.
        Factors influencing food choices of adolescents: Findings from focus-group discussions with adolescents.
        J Am Diet Assoc. 1999; 99: 929-937
        • Neumark-Sztainer D.
        • Croll J.
        • Story M.
        • et al.
        Ethnic/racial differences in weight-related concerns and behaviors among adolescent girls and boys: Findings from Project EAT.
        J Psychosomatic Res. 2002; 53: 963-974
        • Whitchurch G.G.
        • Constantine L.L.
        Systems theory.
        in: Boss P.G. Doherty W.J. LaRossa R. Sourcebook on family theories and methods: A contextual approach. Plenum Press, New York, NY1993
        • Bandura A.
        Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory.
        Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ1986
        • Sallis J.F.
        • Owen N.
        Ecological models of health behavior.
        in: Glanz K. Rimer B.K. Lewis F.M. Health behavior and health education: Theory, research, and practice. 3rd edition. Josey-Bass, San Francisco2002: 462-484
        • Demo D.H.
        • Acock A.C.
        Family diversity and the division of domestic labor: How much have things really changed?.
        Fam Relations. 1993; 42: 323-331
      1. Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Department. HSPH Nutrition Department's File Download Site. Available at: Accessed January 17, 2008.

        • Rockett H.
        • Breitenbach M.
        • Frazier A.
        • et al.
        Validation of a youth/adolescent food frequency questionnaire.
        Prev Med. 1997; 26: 808-816
        • Rockett H.R.
        • Wolf A.M.
        • Colditz G.A.
        Development and reproducibility of a food frequency questionnaire to assess diets of older children and adolescents.
        J Am Diet Assoc. 1995; 95: 336-340
        • Fulkerson J.A.
        • Neumark-Sztainer D.
        • Story M.
        Adolescent and parent views of family meals.
        J Am Diet Assoc. 2006; 106: 526-532
        • French S.
        • Story M.
        • Neumark-Sztainer D.
        • et al.
        Fast food restaurant use among adolescents: Associations with nutrient intake, food choices, behavioral and psychosocial variables.
        Int J Obes. 2001; 25: 1823-1833
        • Neumark-Sztainer D.
        The social environments of adolescents: Associations between socioenvironmental factors and health behaviors during adolescence.
        Adolesc Med State Art Rev. 1999; 10: 41-56
        • Sherwood N.E.
        • Wall M.
        • Neumark-Sztainer D.
        • Story M.
        Effect of socioeconomic status on weight change patterns in adolescents.
        Preventing Chronic Dis. 2009; 6
        • Leech R.M.
        • McNaughton S.A.
        • Crawford D.A.
        • et al.
        Family food involvement and frequency of family dinner meals among Australian children aged 10-12 years. Cross-sectional and longitudinal associations with dietary patterns.
        Appetite. 2014; 75: 64-70
        • Kramer R.F.
        • Coutinho A.J.
        • Vaeth E.
        • et al.
        Healthier home food preparation methods and youth and caregiver psychosocial factors are associated with lower BMI in African American youth.
        J Nutr. 2012; 142: 948-954
        • Chu Y.L.
        • Farmer A.
        • Fung C.
        • et al.
        Involvement in home meal preparation is associated with food preference and self-efficacy among Canadian children.
        Public Health Nutr. 2013; 16: 108-112
        • Fulkerson J.A.
        • Rydell S.
        • Kubik M.Y.
        • et al.
        Healthy home offerings via the mealtime environment (HOME): Feasibility, acceptability, and outcomes of a pilot study.
        Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.). 2010; 18: S69-S74
        • Larson N.I.
        • Story M.
        • Eisenberg M.E.
        • Neumark-Sztainer D.
        Food preparation and purchasing roles among adolescents: Associations with sociodemographic characteristics and diet quality.
        J Am Diet Assoc. 2006; 106: 211-218
        • Sattler M.
        • Hopkins L.
        • Anerson S.E.
        • et al.
        Characteristics of youth food preparation in low-income, African American homes: Associations with health eating index scores.
        Ecol Food Nutr. 2015; 54: 380-396
        • Neumark-Sztainer D.
        • Larson N.I.
        • Fulkerson J.A.
        • et al.
        Family meals and adolescents: What have we learned from Project EAT (Eating Among Teens)?.
        Public Health Nutr. 2010; 13: 1113-1121