Center for Health Policy and Research (CHPR) Publications


Meals in Our Household: reliability and initial validation of a questionnaire to assess child mealtime behaviors and family mealtime environments

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Family Medicine and Community Health; Department of Pediatrics; Center for Health Policy and Research; Shriver Center; Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center

Publication Date


Document Type



Child; Child Development Disorders, Pervasive; *Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena; Child, Preschool; *Choice Behavior; Cross-Sectional Studies; *Family; Female; *Food Habits; *Food Preferences; Humans; Male; *Questionnaires; Social Environment; Socioeconomic Factors


Behavioral Disciplines and Activities | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Dietetics and Clinical Nutrition | Pediatrics | Psychiatry and Psychology


Mealtimes in families with young children are increasingly of interest to nutrition and public health researchers, yet assessment tools are limited. Meals in Our Household is a new parent-report questionnaire that measures six domains: 1) structure of family meals, 2) problematic child mealtime behaviors, 3) use of food as reward, 4) parental concern about child diet, 5) spousal stress related to child's mealtime behavior, and 6) influence of child's food preferences on what other family members eat. Reliability and initial face, construct, and discriminant validity of the questionnaire were evaluated between January 2007 and December 2009 in two cross-sectional studies comprising a total of 305 parents of 3- to 11-year-old children (including 53 children with autism spectrum disorders). Internal consistencies (Cronbach's alpha) for the six domains averaged .77 across both studies. Test-retest reliability, assessed among a subsample of 44 parents who repeated the questionnaire after between 10 and 30 days, was excellent (Spearman correlations for the domain scores between two administrations ranged from 0.80 to 0.95). Initial construct validity of the instrument was supported by observation of hypothesized inter-relationships between domain scores that were of the same direction and similar magnitude in both studies. Consistent with discriminant validity, children with autism spectrum disorders had statistically significantly (P

DOI of Published Version



Anderson SE, Must A, Curtin C, Bandini LG. Meals in Our Household: reliability and initial validation of a questionnaire to assess child mealtime behaviors and family mealtime environments. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012 Feb;112(2):276-84. PubMed PMID: 22741169; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3548428. Link to article on publisher's website

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed