Family meal dynamics linked to childhood weight, study shows
Family meal dynamics linked to childhood weight, study shows

Family meal dynamics linked to childhood weight, study shows

A new study reveals family interaction during mealtimes may impact children s’ weight.

Scientists set up video cameras in the homes of low income and minority families for one week’s worth of meals.

The study, which appeared in the Journal of Pediatrics, looked at the the eating habits of 2,287 girls and boys in their teenage years, and then followed up with these kids 10 years later. Researchers found that teenagers who ate dinner with their families three to four times a week were 50 percent less likely to be obese as young adults than their peers who did not eat family dinners on a weekly basis. Even one to two nights of family dinners per week had a protective effect on kids, reducing the participant’s future risk for obesity by 33 percent.

“Parents have all these messages coming at them about what to do to prevent adolescent obesity,” said the lead author, Jerica M. Berge, an assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Minnesota. “Here we’re providing a concrete thing parents can focus on. If you invest in one or two meals a week, it can make a difference.”

Scientists were not sure why there was a link between family meals and reduced obesity, but they are hoping that future studies can focus on the quality of family meals — the interpersonal relationships, level of distractions, and supportive atmosphere — to piece out the correlation and give families more information about how they can help protect their kids’ health.


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