Saturday, January 26, 2013

More time at family dinners might curb obesity in kids

According to a new study, devoting just a few extra minutes to regular family mealtimes can help children in poor families achieve and maintain a normal weight.

A University of Illinois release reveals children whose families engaged with each other over a 20-minute meal four times a week weighed significantly less than kids who left the table after 15 to 17 minutes. Over time, those extra minutes per meal add up and become really powerful.

The researchers observed 200 family mealtimes to assess how socioeconomic factors and mealtime behaviors of families affected the weight of children in elementary school. They noted things such as the importance families placed on sharing a meal, the efforts they made to schedule family meals and how much interaction there was between family members during meals.

Factors that increased the risk of obesity in children in poor families included: being in a single-parent family, having a mother with little education and living in a neighborhood without easy access to healthy foods.

But even with these risk factors, children who had regular high-quality family mealtimes were less likely to have weight problems, according to the study in the December 2012 issue of the journal Economics and Human Biology.

According to researchers, three to four extra minutes per meal made a healthy weight more likely. They noted that teaching poor families how to make the most of family mealtimes is a workable way to reduce children's risk of being overweight or obese.

SOURCE: University of Illinois, news release, Jan. 17, 2013

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More time at family dinners might curb obesity in kids

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