How Family Dinner Makes Your Kids Healthier


family mealsYesterday I reported on the apparent increase of eating disorders among young kids and asked if healthy family eating could make a difference. Today, I came across this piece by doctor, author and Huffington Post contributor, Dr. Mark Hyman: How Eating at Home Can Save Your Life.

The article refers to research that claims children who share regular meals with parents get better grades, are physically and mentally healthier and are more likely to stay out of trouble. According to Hyman:

“They [children who share regular meals with parents] are 42 percent less likely to drink, 50 percent less likely to smoke and 66 percent less like to smoke marijuana. Regular family dinners protect girls from bulimia, anorexia, and diet pills. Family dinners also reduce the incidence of childhood obesity. In a study on household routines and obesity in U.S. preschool-aged children, it was shown that kids as young as four have a lower risk of obesity if they eat regular family dinners, have enough sleep, and don’t watch TV on weekdays.”

Wow. Powerful stats. And the info sheds light on my question from yesterday about healthy family food and eating disorders.

The article also provides seven great tips for reclaiming the family dinner, including one to read our very own Laurie David and Kristin Uhrenholdt’s fab book “The Family Dinner.”

Though I believe family dinner is powerful stuff, I also get that it isn’t always possible… or ideal, as explained by this mom who admits: Why We Don’t Do Family Dinner. My kids always eat the same foods that my husband and I eat, and we try to do family dinner as much as is practical but, since the boys are still small and eat early, it isn’t always possible.

What do you think: Is family dinner important to you? Or is it more important that you connect with your spouse? How’s it work at your house?

Photo: Corbis photography/Veer