London, May 2: Children who share family meals are less likely to pile on the pounds or binge on junk food.
Researchers found kids who ate with their parents at least three times a week were 12 percent less likely to be overweight.
They were also 20 percent less likely to eat junk food, 35 percent less likely to skip meals or binge, and 24 percent more likely to eat vegetables and other healthy foods, the journal Paediatrics reports.
‘Sitting down together as a family, there are nutritional benefits from that,’ said Amber Hammons, from the University of Illinois at Urbana, US, who led the study, according to the Daily Mail.
The extra pounds can affect a child’s self-esteem and sets them up for health problems such as heart disease and diabetes.
The new report is based on findings from nearly 183,000 children aged between two to 17 years. While those studies yielded mixed results and weren’t easy to compare, overall they show regular family meals are tied to better nutrition.
Hammons said it’s possible that parents may influence and monitor their kids more during shared meals. ‘We also know that families that sit down together are less likely to eat high-calorie food,’ she added.