Eating together improves children’s health
Eating dinner together as a family can be difficult to schedule between school, sports practices, work and music lessons. But sitting down to a good meal together can create a positive impact on the lives of your children, especially on their health.
If you need convincing, here are the top six reasons to eat together, backed by research from Rutgers University:
- Eating dinner together is linked to healthier foods. The Rutgers study found that kids in families who ate dinner together were more likely to consume more healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables. They also received more calcium and other nutrients needed to help their bodies grow.
- Family dinners reduce how much junk food children eat. Researchers also noticed that these children tended to eat out less and consume less unhealthy food like soft drinks. Eating out has been consistently linked with poorer health outcomes, such as a higher risk for obesity.
- Kids in families who eat together tend to have a lower body-mass index (BMI). As is expected when healthier diet choices are made, the children in the study tended to have lower BMIs than children who did not routinely eat dinner with their family. BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. However, the study found only a weak link between a lowered risk for obesity and eating as a family.
- Teens who ate with their family reported fewer symptoms of depression or eating disorders. While the link is not clear, teens who ate with their families tend to have better mental health. This may be connected to the fact that they reported feeling they had a supportive family.
- Eating at home as a family leads to higher quality interactions with your children. The study showed that eating out or watching TV as a family didn’t produce the same health benefits as families who at dinner at home together. The interactions during those activities are not as high quality as sitting around the table together and talking.
- Family dinners at home are better for the budget. With as much as 40 percent of Americans’ food budgets spent eating out, eating dinner in can save your family the expense of food from a restaurant. That’s money you can spend pursuing healthier habits, such as going to the gym or taking a vacation.
You might not be able to make it work every night, but start planning now to have dinner together as a family several times this week.