A recent study suggests that childhood obesity can be partially reduced through regular family meals.
Amber J. Hammons and fellow researchers from the University of Illinois of Urbana-Champaign conducted the study. Their research included seventeen studies on eating patterns in children and adolescents. More than 182,000 subjects were used in the studies.
Analysis of the studies revealed that families who ate regular meals together had healthier children. A child who ate at least five or more meals together with their family each week was twenty-five percent less likely to have food disorder problems compared to a child who ate one meal or less with their family.
The benefits from eating meals together were healthier eating patterns, less weight gain, and more interest in healthy foods.
The study’s definition of food disorders included problems such as anorexia, extreme dieting measures, and frequently taking medications like laxatives.
Hammons was unsure why the family meals had a healthy effect on children. She suggested that meals prepared at home tend to be healthier than restaurant food. Communication between family members could also play a role. Hammons says more studies on family meals are needed.
The study was published in the May 2nd issue of the journal of Pediatrics.