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HHS HealthBeat (February 11, 2013)

A few minutes a meal

Family eating dinner together

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Eat Healthy Together

From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I’m Ira Dreyfuss with HHS HealthBeat.

Researchers say families who spend a bit longer together at the dinner table tend to have kids with a bit better weight. Barbara Fiese of the University of Illinois saw it in data on low-income families.

In the study, researchers observed 200 family mealtimes. They say the difference was only three or four minutes – families with healthier-weight children spent about 20 minutes at the table. But Fiese says the minutes add up, and family time may reduce mindless eating, when the calories go in without people really thinking about them:

“They mean that families are sort of keeping track of what their kids are doing. They’re also monitoring what they’re eating.”

The study in the journal Economics and Human Biology was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

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HHS HealthBeat is a production of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I’m Ira Dreyfuss.

Last revised: February 11, 2013