(RxWiki News) Once children hit teen years, it’s difficult to get the entire family around the table. It’s worth the effort, though, as serious problems can arise by abandoning the "Walton Family" style.
A new study encourages families to sit down and eat together as much as possible — especially with teenagers. Researchers have found that eating disorders and obesity risks skyrocket when teens don’t have family meal time.
"Make family dinner time a priority."
Barbara Fiese, professor of human development and family studies and director of Family Resiliency Center at the University of Illinois, studied the effects eating patterns had on nutrition from 17 recent studies. The review included more than 182,000 children and adolescents.
The researchers found that teens who ate family meals at least five times a week had a 35 percent less chance of developing an eating disorder.
The term eating disorder in this study included binge eating, purging, ingesting diet pills, using laxatives or diuretics, fasting, skipping meals or using cigarettes to lose weight.
It can be difficult to gather the entire family so many times a week, but there's good news, Fiese says, even teenagers who ate family meals at least three times a week were 12 percent less likely to become overweight and 24 percent more likely to choose healthier foods.
Good eating habits and bonding come from family time so it's important to bring the family together as much as possible, Fiese comments.
Give your teens the opportunity to initiate conversations and listen. This practice builds trust and helps prevent unhealthy eating behaviors. Should problems arise, your teens will know they can talk with you, Fiese concludes.
The research is published in Pediatrics.