"The Importance of Family Dinners VII" study shows that teens who eat dinner five to seven times a week with their families are less likely to engage in at-risk behaviors than teens who had fewer than three family dinner per week.
Compared to teens who ate with their families five to seven times a week, teenagers who had fewer than three family dinners a week were almost four times more likely to try tobacco, more than twice as likely to use alcohol and 2.5 times more likely to use marijuana, according to new information released by Columbia University's National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.
"Family meals are the strongest factor that we've come across in any activity that families do," said William Doherty, a professor of family social science at the University of Minnesota. "It really tops them all as a predictor and contributor of a wide range of positive behavior."
Doherty, who did not take part in the study, said family dinners conveyed a sense of belonging, gave teenagers security and stability, and provided them and their parents an opportunity to communicate.