Research shows that families who eat home cooked dinners together benefit from more than just a good meal. Parents and children are more engaged in each other's lives. Kids are less likely to become smokers, use drugs, or become obese and more likely to make better grades.
A new study from the United Kingdom notes that kids also eat more vegetables and fruits when they have dinner with the family 2 or 3 times a week. "Modern life often prevents the whole family from sitting round the dinner table, but this research shows that even just Sunday lunch round the table can help improve the diets of our families," said study researcher Meaghan Christian, of the University of Leeds.
Researchers said that children learn healthier eating habits from their parents and when permitted to help plan menus, can learn more about healthy food choices.
Children whose parents cut the veggies and fruits into smaller portions consumed larger amounts according to the parents who participated in the study.
The new study's findings are based on information from 2,000 elementary school children in London, with an average age of 8. The study's data depended on what the parent's reported on the last day of the study, so results may be a bit skewed. Some parents may have over reported the amount of vegetables and fruits their children ate, while some may have under-reported.
Whether the report is completely accurate or not, family meals together are important. Parents are able to control what is served and have an opportunity to introduce new vegetables and fruits to their children, improving their chances for a healthier life.
The study was published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.