The surprising importance of eating as a family


July 8, 2015

A study published in Pediatrics noted a somewhat unexpected benefit of having dinner together as a family: This Southern tradition may actually help to fend off childhood obesity


It’s 6 p.m., and the table’s set. Call the family, take a seat and enjoy dinner — and its benefits for your kids.

According to a study published in Pediatrics, researcher studied 8,550 American 4-year-olds and analyzed how three routines affected obesity rates:

  • Eating dinner as a family more than five times a week
  • Sleeping for at least 10.5 hours each night
  • Watching less than two hours of television on each weekday

The results:

  • Overall obesity rate: 18%
  • Obesity rate in kids exposed to none of the routines: 24.5%
  • Obesity rate in kids exposed to all three routines: 14.3%

Kids who ate with their families, slept well and watched limited television were 40 percent less likely to be obese than those who didn’t. Despite today’s fast-paced lifestyle, it’s clear we Southerners should hold tight to this tradition.

Researchers aren’t exactly sure about the specific connection between eating as a family and childhood obesity rates.

However, one thing is certain: Eating together clearly has several positive benefits for the health of everyone in the family — a great reason to consider skipping the fast food lane and preparing a healthy meal for the whole family at home.

Inspired? Check out our recipes for a wealth of healthy recipes perfect for family dinners.