Simply Dinner: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Home Meal Delivery

Published:November 06, 2022DOI:



      To determine the effect of a bundled intervention (home meal delivery and provision of cooking/serving resources) on preschoolers’ body mass index z-score (BMIz), dietary quality, and family meal frequency.


      Participants (299 families; mean child age 4.4 years, 47% male, 55% White, 18% Black, 27% Hispanic or other race/ethnicity, and 25% were overweight or obese) were randomized to a control group or to provision of cooking/serving resources plus home meal delivery for 12 weeks [meals provided by Meals on Wheels (MOW cohort, n=83) or a commercial service (COM cohort, n=216)]. Outcomes were child dietary quality, family meal frequency, and child BMIz.


      The intervention increased dinnertime intake of red and orange vegetables in the full sample (MOW cohort+COM cohort) (0.10 pre- to 0.15 cup equivalents (CE) post-in the intervention group vs. 0.10 pre- to 0.09 post- in the control group; p=.01) and the COM cohort (0.11 pre- to 0.17 CE post- vs. 0.11 pre- to 0.09 post-; p=.002), and typical daily dietary intake of fruit and fruit juice in the MOW cohort (1.50 CE pre- to 1.66 post- vs. 1.48 pre- to 1.19 post-; p = .05). The intervention did not change meal frequency or BMIz.


      Short-term home meal delivery with provision of cooking/serving resources improved dietary quality among preschool-aged children but did not change meal frequency or BMIz. Expansion of Meals on Wheels programs to preschool-aged children may be a promising intervention to improve dietary quality. Family meals, when already frequent, are not further increased by reducing the burden of meal preparation.



      BMI (body mass index), BMIz (body mass index z-score), CE (cup equivalent), COM (commercial service), ITNR (Income-to-needs ratio), MOW (Meals on Wheels), SD (standard deviation)
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