College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Summer 8-20-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Jocelyn Carter, PhD

Second Advisor

Jerry Cleland, PhD


Literature reviews show that the frequency of family meals is associated with increased positive health outcomes in children. Our study looked to find the essential characteristics that family mealtimes should have in order to produce the most beneficial outcomes for children regarding depressive symptomology. One hundred twenty-four children and their parents participated in answering surveys about individual and family health behaviors. We hypothesized that a greater frequency of family meals lowers levels of depression in children, especially if the child enjoys family meals. A moderation analysis was used to assess the moderation effects and relationship with the frequency of family meals, mealtime characteristics, and depression symptoms. Results of supplemental analyses showed that some individual symptoms of depression correlated with mealtime characteristics, with some negative correlations found between meal expectations, enjoyment, quality, and specific depression symptoms. The results from this study can help parents and families know what characteristics to focus on when having frequent family meals to help decrease depressive symptoms in children.

SLP Collection


Included in

Psychology Commons