Family mealtimes are a chance for parents to serve as role models, encourage healthy eating habits, and establish family traditions. Other things happen during mealtimes as well, including: socialization of children; establishment of family unity, safety, and security for children; and increased literacy and language development.
Did you know that family mealtimes also decreases the chances that kids will use drugs? According to the National Center on Addiction & Substance Abuse at Columbia University (2007), compared to kids who have fewer than three family dinners per week, children and teens who have frequent family dinners are:
At 70% lower risk for substance abuse
Half as likely to try cigarettes
Half as likely to be daily cigarette smokers
Half as likely to try marijuana
Half as likely to get drunk monthly
One third less likely to try alcohol
Likelier to get better grades in school
Less likely to have friends who drink alcohol & use marijuana
Likelier to have parents who take responsibility -teen drug use
Almost 40% likelier to say future drug use will never happen
Family Day: A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children – The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University – Find out information and get tools to celebrate "Family Day," a national initiative to promote eating dinner with your children.
Family Meals: Are They a Thing of the Past? (Project EAT) – University of Minnesota School of Public Health – Project EAT (Eating Among Teens), is a large research project which looks at many facets of teen nutrition and eating habits. This web page summarizes the results related to family mealtime as well as provides links to additional mealtime resources.
The Importance of Family Dinners IV — The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, Columbia University — Research report that compares teens who have frequent family dinners (five or more per week) to those who have infrequent family dinners (two or fewer).
Meal Time Family Time – Nutrition Education Program, Kansas State University – Versatile display that comes a variety of backgrounds and handouts addressing topics like eating well, easy recipes, making mealtime happen, and more.
Listen to the audio clip with Mary Caskey — Extension Educator:
Project EAT: Eating Among Teens – University of Minnesota School of Public Health – See the results of Project EAT, a large research project which looks at many facets of teen nutrition and eating habits. Includes lists of resources.