Perhaps we might file this post under the category of "overlooking the obvious." For some years now, studies have reported the benefits of regular family mealtimes, most notably that these result in lower rates of teen involvement in risky behaviors. A new study reveals a new benefit, the elephant in the room, so to speak. Regular family mealtimes encourages healthy teen eating habits. Duh. When kids eat more meals at home, they get better nutrition overall.
Parents wanting to instill good eating habits in their children, particularly teenagers, should make sure they eat meals together.
In one of the first long-term studies to look at the benefits of family meals, researchers at the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota found that family meals have a big impact on adolescents because they encourage healthy eating habits and good nutritional choices.
"These findings suggest that having regular family meals during the transition from early to middle adolescence positively impacts the development of healthful behaviors for youth," said Teri L. Burgess-Champoux, who worked on the study.
"The importance of incorporating shared mealtime experiences on a consistent basis during this key developmental period should be emphasized to parents, healthcare providers and educators."
Children who ate five or more meals a week together as a family in both early and middle adolescence ate healthier meals with plenty of vegetables and foods rich in calcium, fiber and minerals five years later.