Family meals, which tend to include fruits, vegetables, calcium, and whole grains, could help teens to stay away from obesity, indicates a new study.
Jerica M. Berge, PhD, and his colleagues from the University of Minnesota and Columbia University used data from a 10-year longitudinal study with their Project EAT (Eating and Activity among Teens), to examine weight-related variables among adolescents.
According to Berge, it was important to identify modifiable factors in the home environment, such as family meals, that could protect against overweight/obesity through the transition to adulthood.
The study showed that Fifty-one percent of the subjects were overweight and 22 percent were obese.
Among adolescents who reported that they never ate family meals together, 60 percent were overweight and 29 percent were obese at the 10-year follow-up.
Results also showed a stronger protective effect of family meal frequency on obesity among black young adults compared with white young adults. However, the limited significant interactions overall by race/ethnicity suggest that the protective influence of family meals for adolescents spans all races/ethnicities.
As noted by Dr. Berge, "Informing parents that even having 1 or 2 family meals per week may protect their child from overweight or obesity in young adulthood would be important." Using this information, public health and health care professionals who work with adolescents can give parents another tool in the fight against obesity.
The study is published in the Journal of Pediatrics.