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Even when families have problems, one can eat together to improve teens

(Reuters Health) – Teens whose families have dinner together are more likely to make healthy food choices, even when children…

(Reuters Health) – Teens whose families have dinner together are more likely to make healthy food choices, even when children and parents have trouble communicating and connecting emotionally find a new study.

More frequent family dinners were associated with healthier eating among teens and young adults, even when families were not very close and had trouble dealing with daily routines, researchers report in JAMA Network Open.

“The big thing is that in addition to family function, family meals still play a role when you think about dietary intake for youngsters,” said the study’s lead author Kathryn Walton, a PhD student at the University of Guelph, Canada, when she did the research.

“Many studies have looked at the benefits of family meals, and over and over again, they have found that young people eat more fruits and vegetables and less fast foods and sugar-sweetened beverages,” said Walton, now a researcher at hospital for sick children in toronto

But she said: “Critics have suggested that family function can interrupt the benefits of family meals because it may be more difficult for low-function families to organize and cook or have healthy food available at home.” [1

9659002] Walton and her colleagues analyzed data on teenage and young adult children of men and women who participated in the long-term nurse’s health science. The Waltons team comprised 2,728 young people aged 14-24 who lived with their parents in 2011.

The family function was measured through a series of nine statements that would be classified on a 4-point scale, including: People are accepted for who they are. feel that I can talk about my problems or share a problem; I feel I’m in my family.

The researchers found that the more often the teenagers and young adults had dinner with their parents, the more their total diets included more fruit and vegetables and less fast food and sweet drinks.

The differences in healthy food intake were small but statistically meaningful.

The important remaining issue, Walton said, is how to get more families who share meals. She offered some advice to help make this happen. Firstly, families who do not eat together can start small, with only one meal a week. “Then they can build on that success.”

It may also be easier to arrange if parents do not spend too much on themselves to make dinner a big deal, Walton said. “It can be easier if you only take a bag of salad and use frozen vegetables, which are as healthy as fresh.”

Another strategy: Allow teens meal projects. “This is especially important for families who are very busy,” said Walton. “Many hands make the job easy. There is also the added benefit of learning important skills for food preparation.”

“It is very exciting to hear more evidence of eating together, along with less risky behavior and improvement of mental health problems, as depression, may also benefit public health, says Dr. Mara Minguez of New York City Presbyterian / Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, which was not involved in the study.

The only announcement, Minguez said, was that the study was done in a mostly white and highly educated population. “I work in New York City where there are many different cultures and I wonder if the results can be generalized.”

Many of the poorer families may have problems dealing with sitting dinners because parents often work late, Minguez said. This is where compromise comes in. “A family can eat later, maybe even 8 or 9,” Minguez said. “It’s just a question a to understand why this is so important. “

” I love the idea that something easy for families to implement that has a significant impact on health, “says Dr. Tammy Brady from Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, who was not involved in the study.

It would be nice to see similar research in a more versatile population, says Brady, but at present researchers have shown that “the family functionality is not so important.”

Source: 2DCWQxD JAMA Network Open, Online November 21, 2018.

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