Families that eat together may be healthier

April 28, 2012 in Nutrition for Children and Teenagers, Nutrition Topics in the News

Families that eat together may be healthier

Growing evidence strongly suggests that fewer family meals translate to increased obesity risk and poor nutritional status, especially among kids.

Studies have found that teens who participated in regular family meals - five or more meals together each week - reported more healthful diets and meal patterns compared to their peers who ate few family meals.

The benefits of family mealtime go beyond nutrition. The more often families eat together, the less likely kids are to smoke, drink, do drugs, develop eating disorders and, and the more likely they are to excel academically.

A new report from researchers at Rutgers evaluated results from 68 previously published scientific reports that investigated the link between family mealtime and children's health. They looked at how frequency or atmosphere of family meals was related to consumption of both healthy foods (e.g. fruits and vegetables) and unhealthy foods (e.g., soft drinks). The researchers also evaluated if scientific evidence actually supports the idea that more frequent family meals can lead to decreased obesity.

Their review revealed many benefits to children associated with having frequent family meals, including increased intake of fruits, vegetables, fiber, calcium-rich foods and vitamins. As well, the more a family ate together the less children consumed unhealthy foods.

Although the researchers found only a weak link between family meals and obesity risk, children in families with frequent family meals tended to have lower body mass index (BMI) than those who enjoyed fewer family meals.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.