A study in the journal Pediatrics finds that children and adolescents who share meals with their families at least three times per week are less likely to be overweight, eat unhealthy foods or be at risk for eating disorders.
"It tells parents what they can do to help in those nutritional issues with their children," said lead study author Amber Hammons, Ph.D., of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.
"We understand that parents are really busy, and that's definitely one of the biggest problems that's cited by parents- that it's just so difficult to manage time to prepare it and then to get all the family members to be present," she said. "What this study is suggesting is that sitting down for three meals out of the week tends to show this significant benefit." The researchers examined 17 previous studies, which involved 182,836 children aged 2 to 17. Their findings reinforced the recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics, as part of its campaign to prevent childhood obesity.
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