According to a recent study, devoting a few additional minutes to regular family mealtimes can help children in underprivileged families reach and maintain a normal weight.
Study author Barbara Fiese and director of the family resiliency program and the University of Illinois said, “Children whose families engaged with each other over a 20-minute meal four times a week weighed significantly less than kids who left the table after 15 to 17 minutes. Over time, those extra minutes per meal add up and become really powerful.”
The research consisted of observing 200 family mealtimes and assessing how socioeconomic factors and mealtime behavior of the families affected the weight of the children in elementary school. Researchers noted that the importance that families put on sharing a meal, their efforts to schedule family meals and the amount of interaction between family members during the meals.
The risk of obesity in children of poor families was affected by factors including: having a mother with little education, being in a single-parent family and living in neighborhoods with no easy access to healthy foods.
Children's health can also be affected by separate meals after parents have divorced. It is important for parents to work together and arrange a healthy custody agreement with their attorneys during a divorce.
The study published in the December 2012 issue of the Economics and Human Biology journal reported, however, that even with these risk factors; children who had regular high-quality family mealtimes were less likely to have weight problems.
Fiese said, “Three to four extra minutes per meal made a healthy weight more likely.”
Children’s risk of being overweight could be combatted by teaching underprivileged families how to make the most of family meals, noted Fiese.
“This is something we can target and teach. It’s much more difficult to change factors such as marital status, maternal education or neighborhood poverty,” Fiese added.
These families are lucky enough to be able to correct one small thing in their family to make everyone healthier, other families, however, are not so lucky. If you or your family is having problems that need legal attention, contact Sullivan, Taylor and Gumina attorneys today. Located in Wheaton, IL, these family law attorneys can help you fix the kinks in your family.