A recent study in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, shows that families that share meals together are more likely to have healthier children. The study (based on a large compilation of data taken from 17 separate studies) found that children and adolescents who ate at least three meals with their families a week were 12 percent less likely to be overweight than those who didn’t.

Other findings: They were also 20 percent less likely to eat unhealthy foods such as fried foods, fast food, soda, and candy than their not-eating-with-family counterparts. They were 24 percent more likely to eat healthy foods, including fruits and vegetables, and 35 percent less likely to have eating disorders or engage in behaviors such as skipping meals or consuming meal-replacement products.

Interestingly, the authors also referenced a focus-group study in which adolescents stated that they “would most like their parents to prepare healthy meals at home.” This was somewhat surprising to me, as I remember constantly trying to rally my parents to order pizza.

What the study didn’t define was what exactly counts as a “shared meal together.” Do you still get the benefit if you are watching television together while eating? What if the “shared meal together” is frozen lasagne versus homemade? Or if it’s at Applebee’s?

Image source: Flickr member ctsnow under Creative Commons

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