Sharing Meals with Friends May Lower Depression, Anxiety, and Stress in Teens

The following is excerpted from an online article posted by News Medical.

Previous research shows that family meals influence mental well-being; however, limited studies have evaluated the relationship between social eating behavior and mental disorders in adolescents.

A recent Clinical Nutrition study investigated the impact of family meals and social eating behavior on anxiety, depression, and stress symptoms in adolescents.

The current cross-sectional study evaluated data from the Eating Healthy and Daily Life Activities (EHDLA) study. The EHDLA study obtained representative samples of adolescents between 12 and 17 years of age from Valle de Ricote, Spain. The study cohort included a total of 649 adolescents, 56.7% of whom were girls.

Mental disorders were evaluated by the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (DASS-21), which considered 21 symptoms that were used to score participants on a four-point Likert-type scale. In this scoring system, zero was defined as “did not apply to me at all,” with the gradual escalation in the score indicating an increase in depression, anxiety, and stress.

As compared to family meals, more social eating among friends was strongly associated with reduced anxiety, depression, and stress symptoms in Spanish adolescents. Family meals were also inversely associated with depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms.

Social eating behavior is associated with a reduction in depressive symptoms in adolescents and could be due to the protection and support that they receive from family/peers. Sharing a good meal with family and friends also improves communication with peers/family, which has a positive effect on anxiety.

Adolescents who generally eat in the company of their peers have greater peer acceptance, which prevents anxiety symptoms.

Source: News Medical

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)