Supporting Research

More than 35 years of research and thousands of studies from around the globe document that family meals (no matter how you define “family”) are advantageous for both physical and mental health.  Beyond these benefits, it has been shown time and again that family meals improve family functioning – family connectedness, communication, expressiveness, and problem-solving.

We may have always known, intuitively, that family meals are good for us, but the numerous research studies from the past ten years alone (cited below) provide scientific proof. See for yourself.

Remarkable Mental Health Benefits for All Involved

Eating more family meals is associated with better overall mental health. Regular family meals are also associated with lower rates of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, tobacco use, early teenage pregnancy, and higher rates of resilience and higher self-esteem, all of which impact mental health. Mental health experts say the magic of sit-down mealtime happens when families gather together to talk, laugh, share their day-to-day struggles, and support each other through life's ups and downs. These moments of connection nurture a sense of belonging, leading to greater self-esteem and self-confidence.
Family Meal - A Great Place to Create Positive Change
Family Meals Benefit Adults, Too

Emotional Survival Skills

Eating more meals together as a family is associated with improved overall adolescent health: reduced adolescent drug use, delayed sexual activity, reduced symptoms of depression, violence and suicide, and higher grades among youth. Overall, family meals lead to higher self-esteem and a greater sense of resilience—or ability to bounce back from hardships—in children. At the family level, these shared meals create a sense of togetherness and generally improve family relationships.
Family Meals Have Long-Term Influences on Children's Biopsychosocial Well-Being
Adolescents Feel Greater Happiness When They Share a Family Meal
Family Meals are Positively Related to Positive Dimensions of Mental Health in Adolescents
Frequent Family Meals May Have a Protective Effect on the Mental Health of Adolescents
Family Meals May Build Stronger Families and Young People
Frequent Family Meals Have Positive Effects on Psychosocial Outcomes in Children and Adolescents
Adolescents Who Frequently Eat Meals with Their Family Are Less Likely to Engage in Risk Behaviors
Regular Family Meals May Be Related to More Positive Body Image in Youth
Family Meals May Help Protect Adolescents from the Harmful Consequences of Cyberbullying

Maximizing Nutrition and Health

People who eat more meals together have healthier eating habits and better diets in general. These healthier habits include eating more fruits and vegetables, as well as having breakfast more often. Involving children in food preparation for family meals can increase dietary quality and improve eating patterns among children.
Family Meals are an Ideal Setting for Efforts to Improve Children's Nutritional Health
Shared Meals May Lead to a Higher Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Among Preschoolers
There Is a Significant Relationship Between Frequent Family Meals and Better Nutritional Health
Frequent Family Meals and Healthy Dietary Patterns Go Together
Family Meals Show Significant Associations with Nutritional Health in Children
Frequent Family Meals are Associated with Better Diet Quality Through Childhood and Adolescence
Family Meals Improve Dietary Intake Among Youths
Eating in the Home-Family Setting is Associated with Better Diet Quality for Children
A Positive Relation Between Family Meal Frequency and Dietary Outcomes in Children

Healthy Weight and Healthier Diet

Studies show that children who share three or more family meals per week are more likely to have a healthy weight and a healthier diet than those who share fewer than three family meals.
Positive Experiences at Family Meals Lead to Reduced Risk of Childhood Overweight and Obesity
Family Meals During Adolescence Significantly Associated with Reduced Risk of Overweight or Obesity
Frequency of Family Meals Presents an Inverse Association with Childhood Overweight or Obesity
Family Meal is a Valuable Moment to Promote Healthy Eating in Toddlers and Infants
Family Meals Present Children with Disabilities Positive Social and Family Health Outcomes
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Family Meals Movement