The family that eats together, stays healthy together
May 2nd, 2011
11:00 AM ET
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A study in the journal Pediatrics finds that children and adolescents who share meals with their families at least three times per week are less likely to be overweight, eat unhealthy foods or be at risk for eating disorders.

"It tells parents what they can do to help in those nutritional issues with their children," said lead study author Amber Hammons, Ph.D., of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.

"We understand that parents are really busy, and that's definitely one of the biggest problems that's cited by parents- that it's just so difficult to manage time to prepare it and then to get all the family members to be present," she said. "What this study is suggesting is that sitting down for three meals out of the week tends to show this significant benefit." The researchers examined 17 previous studies, which involved 182,836 children aged 2 to 17.  Their findings reinforced the recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics, as part of its campaign to prevent childhood obesity.

Read the rest of  "Family meals benefit health of children" on The Chart.

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soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. FRC Illinois

    The Pediatrics article demonstrates that sharing family meals can have health promoting benefits. However, it’s not always easy to get everyone to the table for a stress free mealtime. The Family Resiliency Center at the University of Illinois (where the Pediatrics study was conducted) has started an initiative to offer tips for parents to manage common mealtime challenges like sibling conflict. You can check out the Mealtime Minutes initiative that includes a public service announcement, mealtime conversation cards, tips generated by parents, and a sign up list to learn more at Additional Mealtime Minutes will be forthcoming with input from real families with real solutions.

    May 4, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  2. dorisengles034

    Just found that "123 Get Samples" is promoting a wide variety of major brands by providing free samples. You’ll have to fill in your zip code to see if you can qualify to receive them. You can get all samples from one place. I think it is available for most of the zip codes and it worked for me.

    May 3, 2011 at 6:31 am |
  3. Matt C.

    Three times a week? Are you kidding me? We eat together at least 14 meals a week. Our son eats with at least one of us 21 times a week. Is that unusual?

    May 2, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
  4. Granite

    Well, first one would have to define "family".

    May 2, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • Truth, Temporary Bachelor

      Mom, Dad, young'uns, grandma and grandpa if still alive...

      May 2, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Queen of Everything

      A family can be defined as whatever or whomever you'd like. Blood may be thicker than water but sometimes water is better company.

      May 2, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • AleeD@Granite

      As it pertains to this article, "a family" is a group of people you live with, love, and share meals with.

      May 3, 2011 at 7:50 am |
  5. Truth, Temporary Bachelor

    The older I get, the more I realize that I had a pretty idyllic childhood for the most part. I always owned a bike, and took it everywhere. I received a BB gun when I was about nine. I used to spend most every day in the summer fishing, and we had dinner together every night. While there were certainly things I would have done differently, I think for the most part, I haad a great deal to be thankful for.

    May 2, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • Queen of Everything@Truth

      Yep, I had it pretty good as a kid too. I'll have to remember to tell my parents "thank you".

      May 2, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
      • Sir Biddle@Queen

        Actually a good point Queen that I am going to do tonight.

        May 2, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  6. Jerv

    "it's just so difficult to manage time to prepare it and then to get all the family members to be present," Guess I'm just old school. When my folks said "dinners ready!" It wasn't a request to go to the table, it was a requirment or my azz got turned red as rasberries.

    May 2, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • Truth, Temporary Bachelor@Jerv

      I concur!
      My father was not one to negotiate over things like this. We also talked during dinner, whcih I think was a huge help as well.

      May 2, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • JBJingles@Jerv

      Amen! We had five kids and two adults and somehow we always made it to dinner at the same time. both parents worked, we had school, sports, etc. As you said, it was not a request or optional to be present and I think we were the better for it. And no telephone or tv allowed during dinner either. If one of our friends called during dinner, we were in BIG trouble... :)

      May 2, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
      • Jerv@JBJ and Truth

        Yup same here with us, Truth. We talked to each other, laughed and cryed too. LOL, JBJ! I totally forgot about the phone rule. Not only were our friends not allowed to call during dinner, you were not allowed to answer the phone either. Now a days, kids text while they eat. Anyway...

        May 2, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
      • Queen of Everything@Jerv

        I took my 16 year-old nephew's phone away from him when he was texting during Easter dinner. I didn't give it back to him until they left.

        May 2, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
      • Jerv@Q

        I like your style Q!

        May 2, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
      • Sir Biddle@Queen

        HA! I had two phones (both off) in my pocket on my wedding day. Mine and my 16 year old nephews who was a groomsman.

        May 2, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
      • Queen of Everything@Jerv

        I'm not even sure why the child even has a phone. He doesn't get his license for another 4 months and the only places he should be going are school, band practice and to his friends houses. I'm pretty sure phones exist in all of those places.

        May 2, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • Sir Biddle@Truth & Jerv

      Hilarious but so true, so true. I think the three of us we're raised with the same set of rules. I recognize life is not like the Andy Griffith Show or Leave it to Beaver, but today's kids have no clue. This is a rule that we will be instilling for Lil Biddle. Took the little guy to get a haircut on Saturday and the hairdresser was trying to give him a sucker to distract him and I said, ahhh no candy Lisa. Why not, why not. Ummmm, let me think: he's barely one, I don't want him to choke, and he doesn't need the candy. I did tell her no candy, there are enough fat kids in the U.S. these days. Got a few looks from some of the other patrons on that line.

      May 2, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
      • Jerv@SirB and Truth

        My pop did the same with me and my brohters. No candy when getting a hair . Sounds like Lil Bid and soon to be Lil Truth will be regular chips off the old block.

        May 2, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • Queen of Everything

      We could only eat dinner if we were sitting at the table. You want to stay in the living room and finish watching TV? Fine but if the food was gone by the time you made it to the table...too bad so sad.

      May 2, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
      • Jerv@Q

        And I bet that only happened ONE time for you to learn you lesson? Or, I bet you were the stubborn child, weren't cha?

        May 2, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
      • Queen of Everything@Jerv

        Heck, no! I was the kid that said if you're not going to get your fool behind up to the table then I'm eating your share. There were 3 kids (out of 12) still at home when I came along so mealtime was every man for himself.

        May 2, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
      • Jerv@Q

        You have 11 siblings?

        May 2, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
      • Queen of Everything@Jerv

        Yep. 1 brother, 1 sister, 6 half-sisters and 3 half-brothers. I'm the baby of the family (as if that is abundantly clear). :)

        May 2, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
      • Jerv@Q

        "as if that is abundantly clear" LOL! Yup, that is one heck of a big brood.

        May 2, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
      • Truth, Temporary Bachelor@QOE

        Ok Queen, that explains a lot...

        May 2, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
      • Queen of Everything@Truth

        Doesn't it though? ;)

        May 2, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • JainaJade

      we also had the if you don't eat what the rest of the family is eating you can have cereal. By cereal I mean Special K or Raisin Bran not Fruity Pebbles. However that was after the rest of the family finished eating AND after you had helped clean the table.
      This did change however once my mom started working and their marriage started failing...then it was every kid for themself

      May 2, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Jen

      When I was growing up my family sat down together every night. There were exception to this once I was old enough to have a job and worked some evenings but there was always leftovers with my name on them when I returned home. I work full time as does my husband and we have 3 kids and my daughters gymnastics runs into dinner a few nights a week but the rest of us sit down together regularly and when my daughter gets home someone sits with her while she eats and we discuss her day. For those parents who claim to be "too busy" to sit down together as a family I say this...You are only as busy as you choose to be. NO is always an option. Family should ALWAYS COME FIRST!!

      May 2, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
  7. JBJingles

    Geez, I remember the white bread at the table for dinner...but that chicken looks a bit puny to me! :)

    May 2, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • Granite

      Yep, I see a big loaf of unhealthy white bread, a chicken that looks like it was friend and milk that is probably filled with antibiotics. What I don't see is any whole grains or vegetables. This family is going to be constipated.

      May 2, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  8. Chris

    The family that farts together, smells together...

    May 2, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • Flippity Flappity

      The family that eats together, craps together.

      May 2, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  9. John

    Beaver Cleaver??

    May 2, 2011 at 11:08 am |
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