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Nutrition

Eat Dinner With Your Kids: Improve Their Eating Habits


Nine-to 14-year-olds who frequently ate dinner with their families had healthier dietary patterns than those who reported fewer family dinners, according to an article in the "Archives of Family Medicine."

The researchers found family dinner to be associated with higher consumption of fruits and vegetables and several beneficial nutrients, including fiber, folate, calcium, iron, and vitamins B6, B12, C and E. They also consumed lower consumption of saturated fats, soda, fried foods, and foods that raise blood sugar levels.

Adolescents who joined their families for meals were not likely to increase potentially harmful intakes of whole dairy foods, snack foods, and red and processed meats, according to the researchers.

"Based on the results of this study, health professionals may support the efforts of family members to eat together as a means for improving the quality of diet among older children and adolescents," the authors conclude.

Research indicates not eating family dinners could lead to the consumption of fewer, less healthful ready-made dinners.

Researchers surveyed 7,525 boys and 8,677 girls aged 9 to 14 who were the children of participants in the ongoing Nurses' Health Study II, to examine the association between frequency of eating dinner with family and measures of diet quality.

For more information, contact lead author Dr. Matthew W. Gillman, of Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care at (617) 432-0441.


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