The healthfulness of children's meals when multiple media and devices are present

Chelsea A. Robinson, Sarah E. Domoff, Nicole Kasper, Karen E. Peterson, Alison L. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Although television viewing during mealtime has been shown to associate with greater consumption of energy-dense foods, little is known about how new technological devices may influence children's food consumption. Because the number and type of media accessible to children continue to increase, this study examines the association between the presence of various media (TVs, mobile devices, video games, laptops) during mealtime and the healthfulness of children's meals. In this study, 61 primary caregivers of children ages 3–5 years and 10–13 years old participated in video-recorded dinner meals, which were reliably coded for media use, including number of media present. The overall healthfulness of the meals was coded using the Healthy Meal Index (HMI). Linear regression models were used to examine associations between number of media devices present during the meal and HMI, adjusting for parental education, income-to-needs ratio, and child race. Results indicate that the number of media present during the meal is inversely associated with HMI Total scores (B = -.29, p < .01; F(4, 53) = 9.97, p < .01). In other words, as the number of mealtime media devices increases, the healthfulness of children's meals decreases. These results suggest that media and device use during mealtime may be an additional childhood risk factor for poor meal quality, and parents should make efforts to limit mealtime media and device use.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105800
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022


  • Childhood obesity
  • Healthy meals
  • Mealtime
  • Media
  • Mobile device use
  • Screen time


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