Prevalence of Specific Mental Health Issues in Families that have Family Meals
0000-0002-3116-074X (Asfoor, Naser)
0000-0002-2361-0181 (Fairchild, Ashlyn)
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Purpose: Anxiety, depression, and Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are some of the most prevalent mental health issues in the U.S. These mental health issues have seen an increase in diagnosis over the past few decades. A simple intervention, family meals, could be associated with improved mental health of children. This study assesses the effect family meals could have on the mental health of children aged 10-14. Methods: This cross-sectional study will examine the potential associations between parental mental health, child mental health and frequency of family meals to understand how common mental issues such as ADHD, depression, and anxiety could be mediated. Data comes from an IRB-approved dataset collected from 10 to 14-year-old patients attending an outpatient pediatric clinic in Fort Worth, Texas. Univariate and regression models were performed on the variables of interest. Results: Out of 152 surveys, 21 adults had above average depression scores, 32 children had above average depression scores, 19 children had ADHD, and 7 children had anxiety. There was a 12.4% reduction in adult depression scores and a 15% reduction in childhood depression scores with an increased frequency of meals eaten together. Neither ADHD nor anxiety had a significant association with frequency of meals. Conclusion: Increased frequency of family meals could be a mediating factor for both adult and childhood depression. However, this data did not show a significant association between increased family meals and childhood anxiety or ADHD. Future studies should look further into the impact of family meals on the mental health of both adults and children.