The difference between meal frequencies, and some specific food frequencies with and without family

LATIFAH MOHAMMED AL-OBOUDI, PRINCESS NORA BINT ABDULRAHMAN UNIVERSITY, SAUDI ARABIA
DALAL ABDULLAH AL-KHUDHAYRI, ALKHARJ UNIVERSITY, SAUDI ARABIA

Objective: To recognize the difference between meal frequencies, and some specific food frequencies with or without family among Saudi adolescent females in Riyadh city.
Methods: 520 Saudi females aged between 13-19 years ( mean age = 13.74 ± 1.10), who were attending middle school in Riyadh city, Saudi Arabia, participated in this cross-sectional study, All participants completed a questionnaire regarding the frequency and location of meals and their food intake during the 2009-2010 academic school year.
Analysis: A variety of measures of central tendency and variability were used to describe these data, and the nature and strength of possible relationships was investigated using Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient, analysis of variance, LSD, and t-test. All data were analyzed using SPSS.17 software
Results: The majority of participants gathered with their families to eat three major meals a day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), participating in these meals 74.8%, 95.6%, and 92.9% respectively. Higher family meal frequency was a significant increase(p < 0.01) in average number of times per week that the participants consumed chicken, meat, fish, shrimp, eggs, rice, bread, beans, cheese, yogurt, milk and diary, fruit juice, fresh vegetables, cooked vegetables, fresh fruits, and pastry at home. On the other hand a significant decrease was observed (p < 0.01) in the average number of times per week consumption of sweets and chocolate, soda, drinks, snack, fast food, cornflakes, and energy drinks during meals taken by the adolescents when eating with their families, a Spearman correlation showed a positive significant correlation (p < 0.01) between family cohesion with food consumption patterns.
Conclusions: It is clear from these analyses that there is a significant decline in the consumption of healthy foods when adolescent females in Saudi Arabia eat outside the family setting. What can this be attributed to? Access to fast food? Lack of discipline or time? Not being aware of health implications? What public health policy or actions need to change to offset this pattern? Not being aware of health implications? Must highlighting the importance of family meal for their contribution in raising the quality of the food intake of adolescents
Keywords: Meal frequencies, adolescent, family meal, Saudi Arabia, food consumption pattern

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