Sitting down to eat together with families help children and adolescents to avoid eating unhealthy food and obesity, claim researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana, Champaign.
The researchers discovered that young people who ate with their parents at least three times a week were 12 per cent less likely to be overweight; 20 per cent less likely to eat junk food like soda, fast food, fried food and sweets or candy; 24 per cent more likely to eat vegetables; 35 per cent less likely to have eating disorders including skipping meals, using diet pills, purging and using tobacco to keep the weight down.
Obesity has become a nation-wide problem both in the US and the UK. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that childhood obesity has more than tripled over the past 3 decades, reaching close to 20 percent in 2008 while the NHS that number of overweight children was around one in seven in 2008. Being overweight brings along with it cardiovascular and metabolic disorders.
This report, based on findings from nearly 183,000 children about 2 to 17 years of age, dealt with mixed and hard-to-compare results. Also, the studies were based on observations, and not actual experiments. Nevertheless, Professor Amber Hammons, leading the research states, "Sitting down together as a family, there are nutritional benefits from that."
Parents can take better care of their children's nutritional needs during meal times and so, youngsters would have less opportunity to eat junk food with high calories.
So, the researchers conclude that families should spend more time together around the dinner table.