Family Meals Make for Teens Who Eat Healthy

*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on HealthDay.

Want your teenager to eat better? Have more family meals, even if your family isn’t particularly close, new research suggests.

“Gathering around the dinner table is sort of a magical thing,” said lead researcher Kathryn Walton, a dietitian and Ph.D. student at the University of Guelph in Canada.

“It’s a time when families can slow down from their busy days to talk, spend time together and problem-solve. It’s also a time that parents can model healthful eating behaviors,” Walton said in a university news release.

The study included more than 2,700 young people, aged 14 to 24, who were living with their parents. They were asked how often they sat down for dinner with their families, how well their family functions, and about their eating habits.

Teens and young adults who ate with their family more tended to eat more fruits and vegetables and less fast or takeout food. This happened regardless of how families managed daily routines, communicated and connected emotionally, according to the researchers.

Published in the journal JAMA Network Open, the study couldn’t prove that family dinner caused teens to become healthy eaters, only that there was an association.

Still, “to reap the many benefits of family dinners, the meal doesn’t have to be a big drawn-out affair,” said study co-author Jess Haines, a professor of family relations and applied nutrition at Guelph.

“Even if it’s something you pull out of the freezer, add a bagged salad on the side and you’ll have a decent nutritional meal,” Haines said.

“Our research found that family dinners are a great way to improve the dietary intake of the whole family, regardless of how well the family functions together,” Walton said. “Preparing and enjoying a meal together can also help families bond. It’s a win-win.”

Source: HealthDay

Help us reach the next generation of families

Back to Top

[reposted by] Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on and Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

  • About HomeWord

    HomeWord helps families succeed by creating Biblical resources that build strong marriages, confident parents, empowered kids and healthy leaders. Founded by Jim Burns, HomeWord seeks to advance the work of God in the world by educating, equipping, and encouraging parents and churches. Learn More »

  • Support Our Mission

    HomeWord is non-profit, donor supported ministry. If you would like to partner with HomeWord in our effort to help more parents and families you can make a donation. Your investment will allow us to expand this ministry by offering more resources to families and churches in need.

  • Contact Information

    • HomeWord
      PO Box 1600
      San Juan Capistrano, CA

    • Send us an email

    • 800-397-9725
      (M-F: 8:30am-5pm PST)