Typically, the majority of research and health advice focuses on what is being eaten and how the foods that we consume impact our health. That’s why a recent study on the influence of where families eat dinner caught my eye. The study of dinner rituals that correlate with child and adult BMI found that families who frequently eat dinner in the kitchen or dining room had significantly lower BMI (lower for both the adults and their children) compared to families who ate elsewhere (especially in front of the TV – no surprise.)
The study involved 190 parents and 148 children. BMI, or Body Mass Index, is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. It is used as a screening tool to identify weight categories that may lead to health problems. Healthy BMI for adults 18 years and older is in the range of 18.6 to 24.9.
The study found significantly lower BMI measures in families where everyone participates in the dinner conversations and family members most often remain seated until everyone is finished with their meals. The practice of rituals such as these places emphasis on the social interactions as opposed to the food. In addition, within this environment the meal is often prepared in home, with you in control of the portions, ingredients and cooking method.
So make it a habit to gather regularly for dinner at the kitchen or dining room table, turn off the TV, and enjoy each other’s company. Your whole family will benefit.
- Dr. Jeff Dobro, Chief Medical Officer, RedBrick Health