Family Meals, Associated Rituals Could Lower Child, Adult BMI

(HealthDay News) – Family meals and their related rituals are associated with both child and adult body mass index (BMI), according to a study published online Oct. 1 in Obesity.

Brian Wansink, Ph.D., from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, and Ellen van Kleef, PhD, from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, examined the influence of various dinner rituals on BMI in a cohort of 190 parents (median BMI, 29.1kg/m²) and 148 children (median BMI, 20.3kg/m²). The relationship between BMI and dinner rituals was controlled for the education level of parents.

The researchers found that the BMIs of adults and children were significantly lower for families who frequently ate dinner in the kitchen or dining room, compared to families who ate elsewhere. For girls, helping cook dinner correlated with a higher BMI. For boys, there was a correlation between remaining at the table until everyone was finished with eating and lower BMI.

“The dinner table may be more than simply a place where food is eaten,” the authors write. “It may be where social support and family involvement come together – both of which may relate to the BMI of children, as well as parents. Change at the dinner table might be a simple intervention to fight future family fat.”

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