Researchers have shed light on the growing scientific evidence that fewer family meals may translate to increased obesity risk and poor nutritional status, particularly among children.
Over 40% of the typical American food budget is spent on eating out, with family meals often being relegated to holidays and special occasions.
Aside from negative effects on the family budget, eating out has been shown to be generally associated with poor food choices and bad health.
But getting this message out to busy parents in a way that will convince them to spend more time at the dining room table with their children is problematic at best.
To both summarise what is known about this timely topic and create a model that might be used to educate parents and other caregivers as to the importance of family mealtimes, researchers at Rutgers recently evaluated results from 68 previously published scientific reports considering the association between family mealtime and children’s health.
They specifically looked at how frequency or atmosphere of family meals was related to consumption of both healthy foods (e.g., fruits and vegetables) and those considered less desirable (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.