Why Family Meals Can Benefit Your Child’s Health

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Families who sit together at the dinner table, where there’s warmth, positive reinforcement, and group interaction, have a better chance of reducing risk of obesity compared with families who do not dine together on a regular basis, a new study shows.

The 120 children ages 6 to 12 who were observed ate family meals at least three times a week, with the family meals recorded on video for eight days. The video depicted the type of foods, meal length, communication and interaction between parents and children. In the study, three-fourths of children were African-American and half of them were overweight or obese.

The study showed that the children who were not overweight were more likely to have longer family meals and to have their father or stepfather present. The average meal for children who were not overweight last about 18 minutes, and meals for children who were overweight lasted about 13.5 minutes.

The study also showed that families with overweight children ate more meals in the family room, bedrooms or the offices compared to families with healthy children, who ate 80% of their dinners with families in the kitchen. The families that also displayed warmth and nurturing qualities were also less likely to have obese children. The researchers observed that more hostility, inconsistent discipline and permissive parental attitudes were associated with increased likelihood of childhood obesity.

So parents, take time to sit down with your children, talk about their day and create positive connections. You are the major role model in your child’s life, and you can influence them greatly by taking the time out to have a family meal.

Read more on the study here.

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