Why Are Family Meals at Home So Good for Kids?
Want physically and emotionally healthy kids? According to new data released by Rutgers University, it could be as simple as having family meals together at home.
Rutgers reviewed almost 70 studies and found that 40 percent of a typical American family's food budget is spent eating out -- and since restaurant food tends to be higher in fat, salt and calories than food prepared at home, obesity and public health experts believe it's fueling children's risk of obesity and nutrition deficiencies.
The data suggests kids who ate more meals together with their families ate less junk food and more fruits, vegetables, fiber, calcium-rich foods, and vitamins. And the benefits didn't stop there -- teenagers who ate at the family table more often also showed fewer signs of depression and were likelier to feel that their families were more supportive.
“It is very interesting that something as simple as frequently eating meals together may contribute to so many different types of benefits to all family members,” says study author Jennifer Martin-Biggers, a doctoral student in the department of nutritional sciences at Rutgers, adding, “We believe that spending that family time together may provide a platform allowing parents and children to interact and for parents to teach children healthy habits."