The Benefits of Family Meals explained by a New York State Certified Dietitian Nutritionist

Family Meal


When a family sits together at the table for a meal, not only do they share the time together, but they speak with each other in a relaxed setting, sharing ideas and experiences.  Based on their lifestyle and culture, each family will develop their own table style.

Researchers have been discussing the benefits of the family table for a long time.  Repeatedly they found that table talk is essential for parents to integrate their children into the social order of their culture, imparting values and traditions while helping them develop communication and problem-solving skills.


Studies repeatedly show that family meals are equally important for children’s development of healthy eating /improved nutrition and decreased obesity.  Results include:

  • Healthier eating patterns in young adults
  • Improved communication skills

Additional childhood benefits of family meals include:

  • Better academic performance.
  • Higher self-esteem.
  • Greater sense of resilience.
  • Lower risk of substance abuse.
  • Lower risk of teen pregnancy.
  • Lower risk of depression.
  • Better cardiovascular health in teens.
  • Bigger vocabulary in preschoolers.

There are also benefits for adults:

  • Better nutrition with more fruits and vegetables and less fast food.
  • Less dieting.
  • Increased self-esteem.
  • Lower risk of depression.

As stated by Jane E. Anderson, MD, FCP, and Den Trumbull, MD, FCP, “When families regularly share meals together, everyone benefits – the children, parents and even the community.  Making the Family Table a priority from an early age can serve as a vaccine against many of the harms that come to children from a hurried lifestyle”

Decades of research support the conclusion that regular family meals provide physical, social, emotional, and academic benefits.


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