Brief Report  |   April 2016
Benefits of Family Meals for Children With Special Therapeutic and Behavioral Needs
Author Affiliations
  • Beth W. DeGrace, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, is Associate Professor, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center College of Allied Health, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Oklahoma City; Beth-Degrace@ouhsc.edu
  • Ruth E. Foust, MSPT, DSc, PCS, is Owner, Helping Hands Pediatric Therapy and Wellness, Palm City, FL. At the time of the study, she was Doctoral Student, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City
  • Susan B. Sisson, PhD, RDN, CHES, FACSM, is Assistant Professor, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center College of Allied Health, Department of Nutrition Sciences, Oklahoma City
  • Karina R. Lora, PhD, is Assistant Professor, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center College of Allied Health, Department of Nutrition Sciences, Oklahoma City
Article Information
Health and Wellness / Pediatric Evaluation and Intervention / Rehabilitation, Participation, and Disability / Departments / Brief Report
Brief Report   |   April 2016
Benefits of Family Meals for Children With Special Therapeutic and Behavioral Needs
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, April 2016, Vol. 70, 7003350010p1-7003350010p6. doi:10.5014/ajot.2016.014969
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, April 2016, Vol. 70, 7003350010p1-7003350010p6. doi:10.5014/ajot.2016.014969
Abstract

Frequency of family meals (FMs) is associated with favorable child outcomes; however, no study to date has examined the relationship between frequency of FMs and outcomes for children with disabilities. Data from the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health for children with disabilities (N = 4,336) were used. Logistic regression for each dependent variable was completed using frequency of FMs and covariates of age, gender, race, family structure, and poverty level. Each day per week increase in the frequency of FMs increased the likelihood for positive social skills (odds ratio [OR] = 1.09, 95% confidence interval [CI] [1.01, 1.19]) and engagement in school (OR = 1.09, 95% CI [1.02, 1.16]). Frequency of FMs was not associated with problematic social behaviors or parental aggravation with child. Our findings suggest that children with disabilities whose families participate in frequent FMs have a greater likelihood of positive social and family health outcomes.