News article

Family meals, more than just a tradition

Posted:  Thursday, October 09, 2014

The family bonhomie and banter over the dining table seems to be passé in the present generation. However, one must not be too quick to do away with this age-old tradition as it can foster not only family bonding but also good health, says a recent study.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota and Columbia University studied whether frequent family meals during adolescence were protective against overweight and obesity in adulthood. They found that even having 1-2 family meals per week during adolescence could protect against obesity or overweight in young adulthood. The results of the study have been published in The Journal of Paediatrics.

For the study, the researchers used data from Project EAT (Eating and Activity among Teens), a 10- year longitudinal study involving 2287 subjects. They examined weight-related variables such as dietary intake, physical activity and weight-control behaviours among adolescents and questioned the subjects to assess family meal frequency and body mass index (BMI).

The researchers found that:

    •   Among adolescents who never ate family meals together, 60% were overweight and 29% were obese at the 10-year follow-up.

    •   Having as few as 1-2 family meals a week during adolescence was significantly associated with reduced odds of overweight or obesity at the end of 10 years as compared to those who never reported eating family meals during adolescence.

The researchers believe that family meals may exert a protective effect against obesity or overweight by providing opportunities to emotionally connect with the family members. Family meals also tend to be healthy as they include fruits, vegetables, calcium, and whole grains. Moreover, adolescents eating meals together with family may be exposed to the parental modeling of healthy eating behaviours and choices.

Speaking about the study, the lead researcher Dr. Jerica M. Berge said, “It is important to identify modifiable factors in the home environment, such as family meals, that can protect against overweight/obesity through the transition to adulthood.” She also suggests that it is important to inform parents about the protective effect of family meals against obesity or overweight.

Many preventive initiatives have been undertaken to counter the rising rates of obesity in adulthood. The present study highlights the importance of the simple but rapidly diminishing practice of sit down family meals to protect against obesity.

For study details:-Click Here!