Great nutrition and healthy eating starts at home. A research study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, evaluated the diets of over 2000 primary school children and their parents through the use of detailed food diaries on how often the family ate meals together and how much of fruits and vegetables were consumed.
The study found that in households where the family ate meals together, both the children and parents consumed the most amount of fruits and vegetables.
“Since dietary habits are established in childhood, the importance of promoting the family meal needs to be more prominent in public health campaigns. Future work could be aimed at improving parental intake or encouraging parents to cut up or buy snack-sized fruit and vegetables,” study author Meaghan Christian, a research fellow at the University of Leeds, said in a press release.
The study also found that 63 percent of the children evaluated did not eat the World Health Organization recommended daily serving of five fruits and vegetables per day. Encouraging family mealtime, even once or twice a week, can significantly increase a child’s fruit and vegetable intake to recommended servings.
According to CBS News, families who reported giving their children fruit and vegetables every day ate one portion more than those whose families didn’t serve the healthy items. Children whose parents cut up their fruit and vegetables ate half a portion more than kids of parents who did not.
How often do you participate in family mealtime with your children?
It was a regular occurrence that our family ate dinner together, but the past 4 months we haven’t been doing it. They sit at the table while the adults eat in the kitchen or an hour later. I am going to make a habit of eating at least one meal at the table with them from now on, especially dinner. They like it when we all sit together. My daughter even asks for us to sit with them sometimes, which we do if they ask. They do eat better when we do eat together.