Family mealtime while growing up: Associations with symptoms of bulimia nervosa

Diann M. Ackard, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to examine associations between bulimia nervosa and family meals. Female college students (N = 560) completed surveys assessing eating disorder pathology, family meal frequency, and family environment. Results indicate that dinner was the meal most frequently shared with family members. The frequency of eating dinner together as a family was inversely associated with scores on two measures of bulimia, and these associations remained statistically significant after controlling for other familial factors. Familial variables associated with bulimic symptoms included low cohesion and independence, and high achievement orientation. While results indicate that bulimic behaviors are inversely associated with the frequency of a family dinner, these relationships need to be explored within the context of broader family dynamics. Individuals working in primary and secondary prevention settings should evaluate family meal patterns and dynamics in families with a member with an eating disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-249
Number of pages11
JournalEating disorders
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Preparation of this article was supported in part by the Training Program in Behavioral Aspects of Cardiovascular Disease Grant #T32HL07328 from NHLBI (D.M.A.).


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