Family that eats together
You often hear that families should eat together. What evidence is there that this is a good thing?
A study conducted in 2004 suggests that family meals might increase adolescents’ well-being. Middle school (1,608) and high school (3,074) students, ag-es 11 to 18, completed surveys. The frequency of family meals, level of family connectedness, academic performance, substance use, self-esteem, depressi-ons, suicidal thoughts and attempts were assessed.
About one-quarter (26.8 per cent) of students indicated they ate seven or more meals with their families in the past week. About one-third (33.1 per cent) reported never eating together as a family or only doing so one to two times per week.
Frequency of family meals was related to many variables. For boys, greater frequency of family meals was associated with lower frequencies of cigarette use, alcohol use and marijuana use, as well as less depression. For girls, greater frequency of family meals was associated with lower frequencies of cigarette, alcohol and marijuana use, as well as higher grade point averages, lower depression and lower likelihoods of suicidal thoughts or attempts.
Family connectedness was assessed by asking teenagers how much one’s parents care about them and whether they feel they can talk to their parents about their problems.