How often do you sit down with your family to have a meal together? If you've gotten used to eating with hardly anyone at the dinner table, a new study presented at the American Society for Nutrition’s Scientific Sessions in San Diego, California, might give you reason to gather the whole family together again. According to the researchers, families who eat together are healthier than those who don’t.

A research team from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, reviewed 68 different studies that centered around the frequency of family meals and people's risk of weight gain. Based on the results, families who eat together tend to make healthier decisions. Kids, for instance, are much more likely to eat vegetables, fruits, and fiber when they dine with their families. Teenagers, on the other hand, become less prone to depression than those who eat at home less often. In addition, children who belong to families who dine together tend to have a lower body mass index.

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While getting together as a family is indeed a good habit to have, it’s also important to consider the kind of activities involved. Research shows that watching television or eating fast food together does not give the same health benefits as eating a balanced meal does.

“We believe that spending that family time together may provide a platform allowing parents and children to interact and for parents to teach children healthy habits,” says study author Jennifer Martin-Biggers.


(Photo by More Good Foundation via Flickr Creative Commons)

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