Data says families that eat together stay healthy together
By Jay Keller
Recent research into the importance and impact of family mealtime says eating together is central to the family unit and spending more time at the dinner table is the best way to help children stay healthy and wise.
Conventional wisdom has always suggested that family dinners play an important role in how kids perform in school, their level of self-esteem and how much they eat.
Recent research shows family mealtime not only improves family nutrition but it plays a paramount role in the overall well-being of children.
Publishing their findings in the journal Economics and Human Biology, the researchers at the University of Illinois say that extending mealtimes by as little as three to four minutes could make all the difference.
“Families who had a child of healthy weight spent more time engaged with each other during the meal, expressed more positive communication, and considered mealtimes more important and meaningful than families who had a child who was overweight or obese,” the researchers found in a study seeking to understand the impacts of childhood obesity.
Using mealtime as the barometer, a new study released on Tuesday by Welch’s shows that families still talk face-to-face about routine family issues and eat together at least four nights per week.
And, despite the fact that mom and dad say they are busier than ever, most families eat together as often or more than when they were children.
Parents indicated that the kitchen table is central to all family activities, from eating meals to doing homework to playing games.
Nearly 75 percent of families surveyed said they eat most meals and snacks in the kitchen.
The next-closest location in the house is the couch with 18 percent of parents saying most meals are consumed in that part of the house.
Only three percent of families surveyed by Welch’s say they eat in the car or at a restaurant or fast-food establishment.
Regardless, busy schedules continue to challenge how long and when families bond. At least 40 percent of parents surveyed by Welch’s say conflicting schedules make it difficult to eat together or allow enough time to cook.
“The good news is that there are easy solutions to combat the common obstacles facing families at mealtime,” Welch’s Health and Nutrition Lead Casey Lewis said in a company statement.
For more information, you can download Welch’s Mealtime Moments Toolkit online.