No TV During Family Meals And Home-Cooking Linked To Less Obesity

It could be that what we do during family meals is more relevant to our health than how often we have them.

Researchers at Ohio State University (OSU) found that adults who never watched videos or TV at family mealtimes had much lower odds of obesity than those who always viewed something during family meals. There was also reduced odds of obesity when all family meals were home-cooked, compared to those eating some or no home-cooked fare.

The number of family mealtimes enjoyed per week did not effect the risk of obesity. “Regardless of family meal frequency, obesity was less common when meals were eaten with the television off and when meals were cooked at home,” said Sarah Anderson, associate professor of epidemiology at OSU.

“This highlights the importance of thinking critically about what is going on during those meals, and whether there might be opportunities to turn the TV off or do more of your own food preparation,” adds researcher Rachel Tumin.

Data for this study were taken from a 2012 survey of 12,842 adults who had eaten at least one family meal during the week before their interview. Obesity was calculated from participant-reported height and weight measurements.

Over half of those interviewed said they ate family meals most days, 35 percent had them on some days, and 13 percent a few times per week. A third of the participants were obese, and about a third usually watched TV or videos during family meals, while 36 percent never did.

The researchers point out that while frequent family meals provide perks for social and emotional health, eating together just a couple times each week is advantageous. “Families have a lot of demands and they can feel pressured to do things 'right' all the time. This study showed potential benefits regardless of how often you eat a family meal at home,” says Tumin.

Source: Science Daily
Photo credit: Lars Plougmann

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