Back to Your Health Blog

Regular family meals can reduce children’s risks for nutritional problems

Gathering together for a meal can give the modern family an opportunity for some quality time and a break from the rush and frenzy of life in the fast lane. Researchers at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign have documented more tangible benefits. 

A study in Pediatrics found that children and adolescents who share family meals at least three times a week are more likely to be in a normal weight range and have healthier dietary and eating patterns than those who share fewer than three weekly family meals. The research, called a meta-analysis, statistically pooled the findings of 17 nutritional studies involving 182,836 children and adolescents.

According to the study results, the benefits of regular family mealtimes include a reduction in kids’ odds to be overweight (12 percent), eat unhealthy foods (20 percent) and engage in problem or disordered eating (35 percent). Researchers said their findings suggest that “family mealtimes may act as a protective factor for many nutritional health-related problems during childhood and adolescence.”