Family Mealtimes Linked to Healthy Eating Attitudes

First Posted: Mar 19, 2013 08:29 AM EDT

A latest study claims that family mealtimes are important for both girls and boys. The study links family mealtime to less eating disorders in girls and less depression in boys, according to a news release.

This study is the first of its kind that associates regular mealtimes with relatively healthy eating attitudes. It was conducted by researchers at the University of Loughborough.

A questionnaire-based study was conducted on 436 adolescents belonging to the age group of 14-18. The study was conducted by researcher Hannah White.

Nearly 93 percent of the adolescents claimed eating one or more family meals a week, and just 63 percent of the children had five or more family meals each week.

According to the findings that are included in the paper 'Family mealtimes: Links with Eating Psychopathology and Mental Health among adolescent girls and boys', around one-third reported eating the equivalent of one meal per day as a family. Just 6 percent of them never had a family meal during the previous seven days.

Boys who had more family meals were less likely to suffer from depression indicating the importance of family meals, whereas in girls lower depression levels were linked with family meal times that had a positive atmosphere. But eating more family meals caused lower levels of eating disorders.

"There are several interpretations of these findings.  Those families who are more likely to sit together and have a meal are more likely to communicate with each other. Family mealtimes can provide a good opportunity to discuss any concerns or problems, as well as to share positive experiences," professor Meyer said.

The study emphasizes on the need to revive family mealtime, which in the recent years is pressed due to the busy lifestyles of individuals. 

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