What Happens When You Have a Family Meal? Read to Find Out!

What Happens When You Have a Family Meal? Read to Find Out!

With after school activities, jobs, and errands, life can get busy.  However, numerous studies have shown that family dinners have a positive impact on children’s values, motivation, personal identity, and self-esteem. Family meals shape children’s food choices and preferences.

The scientific literature examining the benefits of family meals shows:

  • Improved family relationships and socialization
  • Improved nutrition and decreased obesity
  • Decreased screen time
  • Decreased risk of drug, alcohol, and nicotine use
  • Improved mental health and emotional well being

A very recent research study set out to examine the effect of extending the duration of family meals on the fruit and vegetable intake in children.  The key points are summarized below.  The full article can be found here.

Question: How does increased family mealtime duration affect children’s fruit and vegetable intake? 

Findings: In this randomized clinical trial of 50 parent-child dyads, children aged 6 to 11 years ate significantly more fruits and vegetables when family meals lasted approximately 10 minutes longer. The intake of other foods offered did not increase. 

Meaning: Findings of this trial indicate that increasing family mealtime duration is a simple, inexpensive, and low-threshold intervention that can significantly improve children’s diets.

When families regularly share meals together, everyone benefits!