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Last Updated: Nov 18, 2006 - 1:55:25 PM
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Adolescent and Parent Views of Family Meals
Apr 5, 2006 - 1:48:00 PM, Reviewed by: Dr. Priya Saxena

"Family meals are perceived positively by both adolescents and parents….Family meals may be a useful mechanism for enhancing family togetherness and communication and for role modeling behaviors that parents would like their children to emulate."

 
Meals can offer families time for socialization, structure and building a sense of togetherness, as well as giving parents the opportunity to model healthful eating habits for their children. As part of the study discussed above on obesity and eating disorders among adolescents, University of Minnesota researchers compared the "family mealtime environment" from the viewpoints of both adolescents and their parents.

In surveys of more than 900 adolescents and their parents or care givers, the researchers found:

* Family meals were perceived positively by both children and their parents.
* Parents were more likely than their children to report the family eating five or more family meals per week.
* Parents were also more likely to cite the importance of eating together.
* Younger adolescents (grades 7-9) were more likely to place importance on eating together and they experience more structured mealtimes than older adolescents (grades 10-12).
* Older adolescents experience more scheduling difficulties in scheduling family meals.
* Adolescents were significantly more likely than their parents to say they watch television while eating dinner.

The researchers conclude: "Family meals are perceived positively by both adolescents and parents….Family meals may be a useful mechanism for enhancing family togetherness and communication and for role modeling behaviors that parents would like their children to emulate."
 

- April 2006 Journal of the American Dietetic Association
 

www.eatright.org

 
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The Journal of the American Dietetic Association is the official research publication of the American Dietetic Association and is the premier peer-reviewed journal in the field of nutrition and dietetics.

With approximately 65,000 members, the American Dietetic Association is the nation's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Chicago-based ADA serves the public by promoting optimal nutrition, health and well-being. To locate a registered dietitian in your area, visit the American Dietetic Association at www.eatright.org.


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