The modern lifestyle has significantly affected many of the family habits.
In the past, they were not meant not to eat together (lunch and dinner) all family members while the Sunday table was sacred.
Nowadays, it will be difficult for the family to gather to eat together – even for dinner – as the obligations of children and parents are many. Most of them eat alone, on their feet or in front of the TV and in the best of cases they find the opportunity to tell the news of the day until they finish their food.
Nevertheless, eating together as a family is very important for each individual member and this is scientifically proven.
After two decades of research, the Harvard Graduate School explains that taking a few minutes each day to turn off screens and communicate with each other at mealtime can to improve the physical and mental health of all family members.
Want more proof? Here are some of the most recent studies showing the benefits of eating together as a family.
Eating together encourages healthier eating habits
A 2018 study in JAMA Network Open found that eating with family members is associated with better nutrition overall. Especially the teenagers who ate with their family, were more likely to consume fruits and vegetables and less fast food and soft drinks.
Eating together helps prevent mental health disorders
According to a 2015 review by a group of Canadian researchers, often family dinners can prevent problems with eating disorders, alcohol and substance use, violent behaviour, depression and suicidal ideation in adolescents. Also, a 2022 survey by the American Health Association found that 91% of parents reported that their families were significantly less stressed when they ate together regularly.
Eating together can prevent obesity problems
A 2015 study published in Journal of Pediatrics found a direct correlation between the frequency of shared family meals in adolescence and reduced odds of obesity or weight problems 10 years later. The study concluded that families should try to get together for at least one or two meals each week to help children with their weight.
Similar findings were confirmed in another 2017 study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which found that there was a lower rate of obesity in adulthood only if the family meals consumed were cooked at home.
Eating together improves children’s self-esteem
Family meals can help children feel more confident about themselves, according to experts at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health.
By encouraging children to talk about their day (and genuinely listening to their answers), you show not only that you value them but also respect them.
Eating together improves communication skills
A 2017 Canadian study that followed a group of children from infancy through childhood found that participants whose families had positive mealtime experiences at age 6 showed a range of positive benefits by age 10.
In addition to general health and fitness, social interaction and discussions about current topics at the dinner table can make children better communicators, study supervisor Linda Pagani, a professor of psychoeducation at the University of Montreal, noted in an interview with Science Daily.
Eating together helps children cope with bullying
Research published in JAMA Pediatrics in 2014 based on a survey of nearly 19,000 students found clear associations between cyberbullying and anxiety, depression and substance abuse. However, teens who made a habit of eating with their family (ideally four or more times each week) reported fewer bullying problems. The study authors note that regular family contact facilitates parental guidance and open communication between children and their parents.
With information from parents.com