We are all very aware that eating as a family is what’s best for our children. But, you may be surprised how many studies, books and articles have been written on the subject.
I’ve gathered a few facts and links that will truly bring to light the huge benefits of eating as a family.
Five great reasons to eat dinner as a family
Children who sit down daily to a family meal tend to eat more nutritious food than those who do not (1).
The odds of becoming an overweight adult are reduced in children who eat family dinners frequently. Family meals are a great opportunity to teach children about healthy eating. (2)
Instill Table Manner and Social Skills
Children will not learn table manners without being exposed to them. The family dinner table is the perfect place to instill social manners within children. It will serve them well outside the house. (3)
Connection and Positive Influence
Pre-teen and teenage children are very involved outside the home both with school and extra-curricular. And many are attached to their phones when they are home. Having a dinner routine allows the family to come together and connect. A national survey found that almost 80% of teens said that eating dinner with their families was one of their favorite family activities. (4)
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) surveyed 12 to 17 year olds who ate dinner with their families 2 nights a week or less. What they found was that these children have twice the risk of substance abuse as teens who have family dinners 5 or more times a week. The survey finds that the more often children have dinner with their parents, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use illegal drugs. (5)
Many studies have shown that children who eat dinner with their family have higher literacy rates than children who don’t eat dinner with their family. What’s even more interesting is that researchers at Harvard University concluded that family dinners were more important to a child’s language development than reading or playing with them (6).
(1) Positive Maternal Attitude to the Family Eating Together Decreases the Risk of Adolescent Overweight, North American Association for the Study of Obesity, 2005
(2) Growing Up Today Study. Eating dinner with family reduces over weight risk for adolescents, Taveras, August 2005
(3) The Benefits of Eating Together: The Family Who Eats Together Stays Together, Becky Hand, Licensed & Registered Dietician, Phoenix University, 2007
(4) To Eat Better, Eat Together, Sally Squires, Washington Post, March 2005
(5) Research by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse in America
(6) Is Family Mealtime Important? Leah Davies, Archives of Family Medicine, Harvard study, March 2000