Eating Dinner as a Family May Help Fight Obesity

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Obesity is a major problem among American youth today. Childhood obesity has quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. While the statistics are scary-high, there are ways to fight obesity and help prevent it. A new study shows that eating dinner as a family lessens the likelihood of teens being overweight.

Research took place at both the University of Minnesota and Columbia University. They conducted a study over the course of 10 years, analyzing family meal frequency and body mass index of the participants.

Out of the participants in the study, 51 percent were overweight and 22 percent were obese. The findings showed that 60 percent of the adolescents who never ate with their families were overweight and 29 percent were obese when the researchers followed up 10 years later.

As explained on Science Daily,

Family meals may be protective against obesity or overweight because coming together for meals may provide opportunities for emotional connections among family members, the food is more likely to be healthful, and adolescents may be exposed to parental modeling of healthful eating behaviors.

Family dinners are more likely to include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, calcium, and other nutrients, the site explains. That's all the more reason to gather up your teens and eat dinner together. Maybe even encourage your teens to do the cooking themselves — inspire them by sharing this "Meet the Food Fighters" story from our April 2014 issue of Choices magazine.

To learn more about Choices — a health, well-being, and life skills magazine for middle and high school students — click here. Each month, we feature stories about everything from nutrition to fitness, and more!