The Holiday season is upon us, and with that comes lots of opportunity to eat together and socialize around the table. We often do that surrounded by friends and family, yet studies show this time together does not extend past the holiday season. Only about 25% of families actually sit around the dinner table with any regularity to eat together during the average week, according to a 2013 Harris Interactive Poll. While that may not sound too shocking in our hustle and bustle lifestyles, let me add this little informative point: Children who don’t eat with their families are more likely to become Obese later in life!
This information was found during a study called the Project Eating and Activity in Teens study where researchers tracked the dining habits and Body Mass Index (BMI) of middle and high school students and followed up with them again 10 years later.
- More than 50% of the kids followed in this study were overweight or obese, and one of the significant factors found to correlate with this group of children who had become overweight was they lacked family time around the dinner table.
- To be even more specific, young adults who ate even one or two meals with family weekly were 45% less likely to be overweight compared to young adults who never dined with their parents.
- If the frequency of family meal time increased to 3-4 family meals together weekly, the risk of becoming obese decreased by 50%!
Researchers found, in past studies, that family meals around a dinner table tend to have higher likelihood of having fruits, vegetables and whole grains involved because they are usually pre-planned and take extra time to prepare versus quickly purchased fast food consumed on the run or in a rushed state. But this study never asked what the kids were eating, so the meals could have been takeout. Thus it appears another factor is at play to family meal times together helping prevent future obesity struggles: the intercommunication between the family members in a safe, stable, routine environment and creating a place where parents can model good eating habits to their kids. If parents demonstrate eating of grilled chicken, green beans, variety of vegetables… healthier options, then kids recognize that and begin to pattern their eating habits over time to be like their role models, their parents. We live a hustle and bustle life, and the past ritual of family meal time has slowly been pushed to the side. During this Holiday season, when we are together with greater frequency, let’s remember to make good meal choices, keep the portions small, and keep the tradition of family time together during meals continuing into the New Year as something vital to your kids’ future. May your heart be full of Christmas cheer during this special time of year, Nathaniel Berrios, P.A.-C Article found at: