It is hard enough to get the whole family together in one room at the same time, let alone eat dinner together, but researchers at the University of Minnesota are saying that this time together is very important to our children in a variety of ways.

Better nutrition: Serving up a well-balanced meal increases the likelihood that your children will eat healthy foods. The frequency of family meals has been tied to increased intake of fruits, vegetables, grains, and calcium-rich foods, and decreased soft drink consumption.

Speech Development: Family conversation expands vocabulary and encourages children to use these new words. The study found a strong correlation between a child’s vocabulary and mealtime conversations and book reading.

Healthy Eating Behaviors: Having frequent and positive mealtimes together as a family significantly reduces the chance that adolescents will engage in extreme weight control measures such as self-induced vomiting and use of laxatives, diet pills or diuretics. One study showed that girls who ate three-to-four family meals a week were half as likely to engage in extreme weight control behaviors, and girls who ate five or more family meals were at about one-third the risk.

Less Risky Behaviors: Eating together as a family decreases the chance that adolescents will engage in risky behavior like smoking, drinking, marijuana use, getting into fights, and early initiation of sexual activity.

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Want to Make Your Children Happier, Healthier, Smarter and More Well-Adjusted? Eat Dinner With Them!

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