Family Meals Could Reduce Obesity in Children, Says Research

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Family meals affect teens' and children's eating habits and prevent eating behavior disorders. Family meals also reduce obesity, based on the new study prepared by experts from the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) and the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB). 

An expert, Anna Bach-Faig, from the Foodlab group, said the pandemic had revived family meals during this time of lockdown. Their research shows one of the possible good aspects of the said situation that people need to face. 

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Family meals and routines

The study proves that family meals and routines, such as sharing each other's food, sitting around a table without digital devices, having excellent and pleasant talks, are beneficial aspects for teens and children that help with their health. 

Based on and in line with other studies, it points out that such an activity that favors talks and slower eating helps children feel fullness during meals and, indirectly, prevent and reduce obesity. 

The recent study

The study was done through thorough interviews of families in Catalonia with teens from 12 to 16. In this study, experts observed the most minor studied aspects of the Mediterranean diet: socialization at mealtimes and how people eat also affects their health. 

Bach-Faig explains that a healthy diet is not what people eat but also how they eat it. She added that the Mediterranean diet is much more than a list of foods. Instead, it is a cultural model which includes how such foods are selected, produced, processed, and consumed. 

To assess the degree of quality of being friendly or lively in the families being studied, experts observed the number of times and the length of family meals, the place where they took place, the use of digital devices, the preparation of the food, and the type of talks made in these events.

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The results of the study

For almost all parents involved in the study, family meals were especially vital when they had teens since they favor talks and closer family bonds. One of the mothers in the study explained that there is a certain disconnect when children become teens. And through these family meals where they can talk, they can gain a little insight into their teens' worlds. 

Besides, almost all of them said that parents become role models through these family meals and help make healthy patterns for their children, preventing and reducing obesity. This statement agrees with other studies' results, which showed having meals together as a family is linked to a healthier diet, with more fruit and vegetables and less sugary drinks. Such events also help reduce obesity.

Promoting a healthy diet among teens

The study pointed out that it is crucial to think about these aspects to promote a healthy diet among teens and design better public health campaigns. The study's experts carried out an example of such a campaign intended for public health in Catalonia. 

They said that if they can suggest five fruits and veg a day, they can also campaign and propose at least one family meal a day. 

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