Kids are less likely to be
overweight if they eat meals with their families, according to a new study.
The research found that
children in families who eat together without the television on and stay seated
until everyone is finished have lower weight and body-mass index (BMI), a
measurement of body fat based on height and weight.
The researchers compared
BMIs and family dining rituals of 190 parents and 148 children.
socialisation skills during family dinners may override children's need to
overeat, the researchers said. They also found that parents who talk
meaningfully with children, especially young boys, about their day during
dinner also have lower BMIs.
"Eating anywhere other
than the kitchen or dining room was related to higher BMIs in both parents and
in children," study co-author Brian Wansink, a professor in Cornell
University's School of Applied Economics and Management, said in a university
"The ritual of where
one eats and how long one eats seems to be the largest driver [of
obesity]," he said.
The researchers said,
however, that the link between BMI and dinnertime habits does not necessarily
mean that one thing directly causes the other.
"By focusing on family
dining rituals, this research departs from the more food-centric
approaches," said Wansink, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab.
"Family meals and their rituals might be an underappreciated battleground
to fight obesity."
The study appeared in the journal Obesity.
The Nemours Foundation has
more about children's weight.