Supporting Research Reports

Below are the research reports that support the infographics describing the benefits of family meals. 

Family Meals Fend Off Risky Behaviors

Compared to teens who have five to seven family dinners per week, those who have fewer than three family dinners per week are twice as likely to say they expect to try drugs (including marijuana and prescription drugs without a prescription to get high) in the future (17 percent vs. 8 percent).  The National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVII: Teens, which The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASAColumbia) published on August 22, 2012.

Overall, results show that frequent family meals are inversely associated with disordered eating, alcohol and substance use, violent behavior, and feelings of depression or thoughts of suicide in adolescents.  Canadian Family Physician. 2015 Feb; 61(2):e96-106. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4325878/

Studies show that kids who eat family meals are:

  • 4 times less likely to smoke
  • 3 times less likely to use marijuana
  • 2 times less likely to drink alcohol. -- This information is based off of research from the “Family Meals Annotated Bibliography” – Pennsylvania Nutrition Education Networ

http://www.panen.org/sites/default/files/Annotated%20Bibliography%2C%20rev%205%2C%20on%20website.pdf

Family Meals Foster Emotional Balance

Frequent family meals were positively associated with better indicators of family relationships (P < 0.001). Likewise, frequent family meals were significantly associated with higher well-being scores (P < 0.001), lower depression scores (P < 0.001) and fewer risk-taking behaviours (P < 0.001), even after controlling for age, sex, ethnicity, deprivation, family connectedness, parental monitoring and parental communication.  – Journal of Pediatric Child Health. 2013 Nov;49(11):906-11. doi: 10.1111/jpc.12428. Epub 2013 Oct 31.  © 2013 The Authors. Journal of Pediatrics and Child Health © 2013 Pediatrics and Child Health Division (Royal Australasian College of Physicians). http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jpc.12428/abstract

Frequent family meals were significantly associated with higher well-being scores.  Students who shared more family meals (2 times/week vs. 5 times/week vs. 7+times/week) demonstrated a greater sense of well-being (defined by WHO Well-Being Index assessing positive mood, vitality and general interests). Those who ate five meals per week had a 7% greater sense of well-being.  Those who at 7+ meals per week had a 12% greater sense of well-being.  – Journal of Pediatric Child Health. 2013 Nov;49(11):906-11. doi: 10.1111/jpc.12428. Epub 2013 Oct 31.  © 2013 The Authors. Journal of Pediatrics and Child Health © 2013 Pediatrics and Child Health Division (Royal Australasian College of Physicians).

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jpc.12428/abstract

Frequency of family meals appears to be positively associated with better indicators of family relationships.  For example, frequency of family meal consumption was positively associated with family connection.  Likewise, students reporting the most frequent family meals also reported the highest level of parental monitoring and the greater ability to talk to their moms and dads about problems.  -   Journal of Pediatric Child Health. 2013 Nov;49(11):906-11. doi: 10.1111/jpc.12428. Epub 2013 Oct 31.  © 2013 The Authors. Journal of Pediatrics and Child Health © 2013 Pediatrics and Child Health Division (Royal Australasian College of Physicians). http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jpc.12428/abstract

A 2014 study shows that children who grow up sharing family meals are more likely to exhibit prosocial behavior as adults, such as sharing, fairness and respect. -- Source: De Backer, Charlotte, JS, “Our” food versus “my” food. Investigating the relation between childhood shared food practices and adult prosocial behavior in Belgium, Appetite, 2014 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195666314004656

There is a positive relationship between frequent family meals and increased self-esteem and school success.  - Canadian Family Physician. 2015 Feb; 61(2):e96-106. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4325878/

Family Meal Make The Grade

There is a positive relationship between frequent family meals and increased self-esteem and school success.  - Canadian Family Physician. 2015 Feb; 61(2):e96-106. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4325878/

Studies show that kids get better grades:  In studies, kids—from elementary school to high school age—who ate dinner with their families more than 4 times a week had better test scores. As babies listened to parents around the table, they developed better language too. -- This information is based off of research from the “Family Meals Annotated Bibliography” – Pennsylvania Nutrition Education Network http://www.panen.org/sites/default/files/Annotated%20Bibliography%2C%20rev%205%2C%20on%20website.pdf

Research by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia

University (CASA), and others, has found a striking relationship between frequency of family meals and grades. In 2003, the percent of teens who got A’s was 20% of those who ate with their families 5 or more times per week compared to only 12% of those who ate with their families 2 or less times per week.

Family Meals Fuel Better Nutrition

Evidence demonstrates that across the growing years, greater family meal frequency is associated with increased intake of dietary components related to improved health (i.e., fruits, vegetables, fiber, calcium-rich foods, vitamins) and decreased intake of components experts recommend consuming in limited amounts (i.e., soft drinks).  The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). 2012;26:815.10
http://www.fasebj.org/content/26/1_Supplement/815.10.abstract?sid=e7fa907a-85bc-418f-974b-e4997920c259

Eating family dinner was associated with healthful dietary intake patterns; including more fruits and vegetables, less fried food and soda, less saturated and trans fat, lower glycemic load, more fiber and micronutrients from food, and no material differences in red meat or snack foods.  Archives of Family Medicine. 2000 Mar;9(3):235-40. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10728109

Children and adolescents who have family meals 3 or more times per week are more likely to have a normal weight and eat healthier than those who had less than 3 family meals.

  • Overweight- decreased by 12%
  • Eating unhealthy foods- decreased by 20%
  • Disordered eating (such as anorexia nervosa)- decreased 35%
Eating healthy foods- increase 24%  -  Pediatrics 2011 http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/127/6/e1565

With each additional family meal shared each week,adolescents are less likely to show symptoms of depression, less likely to use/abuse drugs and less likely to engage in delinquent acts.
MEIER, A. AND MUSICK, K. (2014). VARIATION IN ASSOCIATIONS BETWEEN FAMILY DINNERS AND ADOLESCENT WELL-BEING. JOURNAL O MARRIAGE AND FAMILY, 76 (1). 

Adolescents who participate in even one or two family meals per week are less likely to be overweight or obese in adulthood compared to adolescents who never participate in family meals. 
NEUMARK-SZTAINER, D. (2010). FAMILY MEALS AND ADOLESCENTS: WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED FROM PROJECT EAT (EATING AMOUNT TEENS)? PUBLIC HEALTH NUTRITION, 13 (7). 

When people cook most of their meals at home, they consume fewer carbohydrates, less sugar and less fat than those who cook less or not at all.
WOLFSON, J. AND BLEICH, S. (2014). IS COOKING AT HOME ASSOCIATED WITH BETTER DIET QUALITY OR WEIGHT-LOSS INTENTION? PUBLIC HEALTH NUTRITION, PUBLISHED ONLINE 17 NOVEMBER 2014. 

People who eat the most home-cooked meals eat healthier and consume about 130 fewer calories daily, on average, compared to people who cook less
or not at all.
WOLFSON, J. AND BLEICH, S. (2014). IS COOKING AT HOME ASSOCIATED WITH BETTER DIET QUALITY OR WEIGHT-LOSS INTENTION? PUBLIC HEALTH NUTRITION, PUBLISHED ONLINE 17 NOVEMBER 2014. 

Children and adolescents who share family meals three or more times per week are more likely to be in a normal weight range and have healthier dietary and eating patterns than those who share fewer than three family meals together.
HAMMONS, A. AND FIESE, B. (2011). IS FREQUENCY OF SHARED MEALS RELATED TO THE NUTRITIONAL HEALTH OF CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS? PEDIATRICS, 127 (6). 

In a study examining the relationship between everyday family rituals and BMI measurements, boys who had a social dinner experience tended to have lower BMI, notably when the family stayed at the dinner table until everyone was finished eating. The results were the same for parents.
WANSINK, B. AND VAN KLEEF, E. (2014). DINNER RITUALS THAT CORRELATE WITH CHILD AND ADULT BMI. OBESITY, 22 (5). 
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