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Tuesday, 14 October 2014 14:38

Family Meals Help Keep Obesity Away

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A new study from the University of Minnesota finds that calm, happy family meals may have an effect on obesity rates.

A new study to be published in the Journal of Pediatrics found that family meals "may be protective against obesity or overweight."

Researchers at the University of Minnesota and Columbia University examined weight-related variables among 2300 adolescents over a 10-year period. They found that "frequent family meals during adolescence were protective for overweight and obesity in adulthood," according to study author Dr. Jerica Birge.

"It is important to identify modifiable factors in the home environment, such as family meals, that can protect against overweight/obesity through the transition to adulthood."

As part of the study, Dr. Birge's team examined what kinds of interactions occurred during family meals. They found, "children who were overweight or obese had family meals that included more negative emotional interactions - hostility, poor quality interactions, little communication and more controlling behavior from their parents - compared to children who weren’t obese."

"I was surprised by how consistent the patterns were," said Dr. Birge. "There were really clear patterns in how much positive or negative interactions were associated with overweight and non overweight. It’s important to focus on making the meal environment more positive."

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