- A study has linked family meals to improved nutritional health of kids.
- The study focuses on ways of improving eating habits in kids.
- Psychological and behavioral factors also impact kids' eating habits.
The research work looks at 57 studies on the subject that were conducted with the participation of 203,706 people from across the world. The measurements used for studying the relationship between family meals and a kid's health included body mass index (BMI), the portions of fruits and vegetables consumed every day and the amount of sweetened beverages, salty snacks and fast food consumed per day. The results of the research were published online in the journal Obesity Reviews.
Coming amidst a global rise in the number of cases of childhood obesity around the world, the study throws some much-needed light on a very important focus area- ways to develop healthy eating habits among kids. Researchers found that kids who were a part of family meals frequently had a lower BMI than those who weren't. This positive relationship was found to hold true for all age groups of kids across countries.
The report on the study states, 'The obesity epidemic is increasingly understood as a consequence of food environment that promotes excessive energy intake through inexpensive, calorie-dense and nutrient-poor foods, available in large portion sizes everywhere at any time.' Lead author Mattea Dallacker said, "Childhood is a unique window of opportunity for countering detrimental eating and lifestyle habits. But it's not just the quality of the food that the kid eats, that affects their health- psychological and behavioral factors are as important, says co-author Jutta Mata.
Therefore, it's important for parents to act as role models and create a positive atmosphere for the kid. Moreover, it's not just family meals that can have a positive impact on a kid's eating habits. In fact, any communal meal like school lunches can also help. In this case, teachers and mentors act as the role models.