Studies show that family meals deliver a host of benefits to both children and parents. Most of these benefits are independent of ethnic background, socio-economic status and whether it is a one or two parent home.

  • Improves vocabulary and reading. Conversation around the family table teaches children more vocabulary and this advances reading.
  • Improves school grades. Having regular family meals was a strong predictor of academic achievement in several different studies.
  • Lowers risk-taking behaviours.  Kids who have regular family meals are less likely to take drugs, feel depressed or have suicidal thoughts, smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, have sex at a young age or get into fights.
  • Improves family relationships. Children who have frequent family meals report better family communication, stronger family ties and a greater sense of identity and belonging. Many families use this time to catch up on each others’ lives.
  • Improves diet.  Family meals are associated with a lower intake of soft-drinks and snack foods and improved intakes of fruits, vegetables, grains, calcium-rich foods, protein, iron, fibre and Vitamins A, C, E, B6 and folate. Girls in these families exhibited fewer eating disorders or extreme diet behaviours. Consistent meals discourage snacking and model healthy eating habits.

Adapted from  www.mealsmatter.org

As featured in the June 2011 edition of CathFamily E-Magazine.

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Author: Francine & Byron Pirola

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