The report, the first of its kind to combine all existing studies on the issue, found kids who eat with their parents at least three times a week were 12 percent less likely to be overweight. Children who frequently ate family meals were also 20 percent less likely to eat junk food, 35 percent less likely to have eating problems like skipping meals or bingeing, and 24 percent more likely to eat vegetables and other healthy foods.
The new report is based on findings from 17 studies involving nearly 183,000 children about 2 to 17 years of age. While individually the studies yielded mixed results and weren't easy to compare, overall they show regular family meals are tied to better nutrition.
Researchers speculate that family meals help boost healthy eating habits because it's a chance for parents to influence and monitor their kids eating habits; as well families that sit down to eat together are less likely to eat high-calorie foods.
The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.
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