Eating Together As A Family Creates
Better Eating Habits Later In Life
Eating together as a family during adolescence is associated
with lasting positive effects on dietary quality in young adulthood,
according to researchers at the University of Minnesota.
More than 1,500 students were surveyed once during high school
and again when they were 20 years old to determine the long-term
effects of family meals on diet quality, social eating, meal
structure and meal frequency. Participants were asked questions
such as how often they ate family meals, how much they enjoyed
sitting down to a meal with family or friends, if they had a
tendency to eat on the run and how often they ate breakfast,
lunch and dinner.
The researchers found eating family meals together during adolescence
resulted in adults who ate more fruit, dark-green and orange
vegetables and key nutrients, and drank less soft drinks. Frequency
of family meals predicted females would eat breakfast as adults.
For both sexes, frequency of family meals as adolescents predicted
eating dinner more frequently as adults, placing a higher priority
on structured meals and a higher priority on social eating.
For women, eating together as a family more often during adolescence
meant significantly higher daily intakes as adults of calcium,
magnesium, potassium, vitamin B6 and fiber. Among males, eating
as a family more during adolescence predicted higher intakes
of calcium, magnesium, potassium and fiber as adults.
"Results of this study suggest that having more family
meals during adolescence is associated with improved diet quality
during young adulthood," the researchers say. "Food
and nutrition professionals should encourage families to share
meals as often as practically possible."
Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued
by American Dietetic Association.