U of MN study finds dinner table atmosphere is also important
Its not only the routine of sitting down to dinner as a family, but the importance, structure, and atmosphere of family meals that may help steer adolescent girls from eating disorders. University of Minnesota researchers found that girls who ate regular family meals in a structured and positive environment were less likely to exhibit extreme weight control behaviors such as diet pill use, vomiting, and chronic dieting. Their research was published in the November issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.
The meal itself provides an opportunity to model healthy eating habits to children, and it also gives parents the chance to check in with their children, said Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., professor of epidemiology and primary author of the article. She recommended parents keep the conversation positive and non-confrontational, especially if their children have issues surrounding food.
"Since society has so much influence on adolescents because of the high prevalence of obesity and the pressure to be skinny, many girls are turning to unhealthy ways of controlling their weight," Neumark-Sztainer said. "Prioritizing structured family meals that take place in a positive environment can protect girls from destructive eating habits."
Sara E. Buss | EurekAlert!
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