Time to Add to Calendar 2019-10-21 00:00:00 2019-10-22 00:00:00 27th Annual National Symposium on Family Issues - Families and Food Nittany Lion Inn, University Park campus, State College, PA Population Research Institute css7@psu.edu America/New_York public
Location Nittany Lion Inn, University Park campus, State College, PA
Multi-generational family sitting around the dinner table

Families and Food

Families play a crucial role in their members’ eating behaviors and orientations toward food. For example, mothers’ dietary patterns in pregnancy are linked to their infants’ food acceptance and children’s food preferences develop early in the context of family life. Later in development, responsive parenting practices can promote the development of healthful eating behaviors, but controlling or coercive parenting practices are associated with the development of problematic, dysregulated eating behaviors in children and adolescents. More generally, the social and emotional climate of mealtimes can serve as a context for promoting healthful behaviors around food.

In the current obesigenic environment within the U.S. and elsewhere around the world, efforts to foster healthful eating behavior and dietary patterns are often at odds with the ubiquity of widely marketed energy-dense foods. Yet, there is a paradoxical relation between food insecurity and obesity, and many low-income communities with high rates of obesity are also considered food deserts--with little or no access to fresh produce and nutrient-dense foods. Indeed, overweight and obesity have reached epidemic levels in the U.S., and low-income and minority individuals bear a disproportionate burden. Comprehensive, multi-level interventions and policy changes are needed to address these inequities and increase families’ capacity to promote healthy eating behaviors and dietary patterns in their members.

The 2019 National Symposium on Family Issues will provide an overview of these many interconnections between families and food.

Book Citation

Book Cover for Families, food, and parenting: Integrating research, practice, and policy.

Francis, L. A., McHale, S. M., King, V., & Glick, J. E. (2021). Families, food, and parenting: Integrating research, practice, and policy. Springer.

Book Access Information

If your university subscribes to Springer’s eBook package, you will be able to read the book online, download a pdf, or order a digitally printed softcover edition for $24.99 through Springer’s MyCopy service. Access to MyCopy is available only through university libraries that subscribe to the service. Look for the title in your university library catalog. There should be a link for SpringerLink.

For Penn State affiliates: The service is available through the Penn State University Libraries. Search for the title in the CAT and then click on the Access Online link. You will be taken to the SpringerLink page.

Monday, October 21

8:15 am Check in and lite breakfast

8:45 am - 12 noon

Session 1: Family ecologies of food insecurity

The session focuses on factors from the micro- to the macro-levels that may explain the complex relations between food insecurity and vulnerability to overweight and obesity. Potential policy approaches to reducing food insecurity will be addressed.

  • Relationships between structural and social adversity and food insecurity in families with young children
    Angela Odoms-Young, Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition; Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Factors shaping rural residents’ experiences of food insecurity and coping strategies
    Sarah Bowen, Associate Professor of Sociology, North Carolina State University; Sinikka Elliott, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of British Columbia; and Annie Hardison-Moody, Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences, North Carolina State University
  • How SNAP Reduces Food Insecurity
    Craig Gundersen, Distinguished Professor, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

12:00 noon - 1:30 pm Lunch on your own; Private lunch for speakers and graduate students (Signup required and will be announced via email)

1:30 - 4:30 pm

Session 2: Family ecologies of eating behaviors

Speakers will consider parenting practices and the development of eating behaviors in children, as well as the importance of mealtimes in healthful family functioning.

  • The power of family mealtimes in promoting health and well-being
    Barbara Fiese, Director, Family Resiliency Center; Professor of Human Development & Family Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Feeding styles and child eating behaviors: An observational and questionnaire approach to childhood obesity
    Sheryl O. Hughes, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Nutrition, Children's Nutrition Research Center, Baylor College of Medicine; Thomas G. Power, Professor of Human Development, Washington State University
  • Mixed-methods assessment of parental and familial factors and associations with child weight and weight-related behaviors
    Jerica M. Berge, Professor and Vice Chair for Research, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Minnesota

4:30 - 5:45 pm Reception for all attendees in Alumni Lounge (first floor)


Tuesday, October 22

8:30 am Coffee and lite breakfast

9:00 am – 12 noon

Session 3: Family ecologies of overweight and obesity in youth

The final session provides an overview of changes in the U.S. food environment that may explain increases in obesity over the past several decades. This session concludes with a review of findings on important targets for obesity prevention, including a focus on fathers as change agents, and an overview of efforts to prevent or reduce obesity in minority populations.

  • Disparities in obesity
    Cynthia Ogden, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) Analysis Branch Chief, Centers for Disease Control
  • Culturally-relevant interventions with overweight and obese African American children and adolescents
    Monica Baskin, Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham; Molly Richardson, Scientist and Meghan Tipre, Scientist, Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • Fathers and food parenting: Status of current research and future opportunities
    Kirsten Davison, Donahue and DeFelice Endowed Chair and Associate Dean for Research, School of Social Work, Boston College; Jess Haines, Associate Professor of Applied Nutrition, University of Guelph; and Brent A. McBride, Professor of Human Development & Family Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


This year’s Family Symposium meeting and the associated volume to be published by Springer will be dedicated to our late colleague, Leann Birch (1946-2019) in honor of her seminal contributions on child feeding and eating behaviors and health.

Symposium Sponsors

The Symposium on Family Issues is sponsored annually by The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R13 HD048150).

Thank you to our Penn State sponsors: Social Science Research Institute; Population Research Institute; Department of Sociology & Criminology; Child Study Center; Department of Human Development & Family Studies; Department of Psychology; Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, & Education; Prevention Research Center; Department of Kinesiology; Department of Biobehavioral Health; Department of Nutritional Sciences; and Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

Also see:
Family Symposium Homepage
Family Symposium Book Series

Contact Person Carolyn Scott
Contact Email css7@psu.edu
Event Type