Family dinners make happy teens
The old-fashioned family meal is already known to prevent eating disorders and obesity. Now a new study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health suggests that teenagers in families that regularly eat meals together have better mental health than teens in families that don’t regularly share meals.
The study compared the mental health status of 26,069 teens between 11 and 15 years old to how often their families sat down to a meal together each week. Regardless of the teen’s gender, age or socioeconomic level, the teenagers who came from families that regularly shared meals together were more trusting and more emotionally stable than teenagers who did not have regular family meals. Even the teenagers who did not feel especially comfortable talking with their parents, but still had regular meals with them, reported better mental health.
Researchers concluded that family meals serve as a kind of educational ground where teenagers learn positive, healthy behaviors. The regular interaction with their parents also seemed to help the teenagers feel a sense of belonging and value, which then led to better self-image and better overall mental health.