Busy parents and kids may have a tendency to skip sit-down meals together. But research shows family dinners are worth the planning and effort because eating together regularly has a host of benefits for children and parents.
For example, Emory University psychologists found that families who share an evening meal are more likely to discuss emotions, events and family affairs; this boosts youngsters’ self-esteem and may improve academic performance. Other benefits include a lower risk of teen pregnancy and depression, according to Columbia University researchers. What’s more, teens who eat dinner with their families are less likely to use drugs and alcohol or smoke.
Parents and kids who eat dinners together tend to eat more fruit and vegetables and keep weight under control better, too. A study from the American Academy of Pediatrics revealed a 12% lower chance of being overweight, a 20% decrease in eating unhealthy foods and a 35% lower risk of eating disorders in youngsters who frequently ate dinner with their family. And University of Minnesota researchers found dads ate less fast food and moms engaged in fewer dieting and binge eating behaviors when family dinners were common.