Obesity: the importance of family meals in youth nutrition

While it is important to leave young people free, researchers remind us how much family meals are important for the quality of their diet, whether relationships between members are good or not.

What role does the internal functioning of the family play in the diet of young people? Do family meals, especially dinners, as well as the atmosphere at home, improve the quality of the nutritional intake of adolescents?

While nearly 40% of Americans over the age of 20 were obese in 2016, up from 34% in 2007, US researchers wanted to examine whether the functioning of the family (ie how the members manage daily activities communicate and connect emotionally with each other) was associated with the frequency of family dinners and the quality of teenagers' diets. Their study of 2,728 young people aged 14 to 24 living with their parents was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Fruits, vegetables, sweet drinks, fast food, takeaway

Specifically, scientists examined the extent to which the frequency of family dinners was associated with the consumption of fruits and vegetables, sugary drinks, fast food and take-home meals among participants. All of this takes into account the sex and age of the young, the frequency of family meals each week, the educational level of the mother's partner (father or new spouse) and the general family structure ( recomposed, divorced parents ...) between January 1, 2017 and August 31, 2018.

As a result, more frequent family dinners were associated with higher quality dietary intake, regardless of family functioning or interactions between members. Young people ate more fruits and vegetables, and less fast food.

Nevertheless, more frequent family meals have been associated with reduced consumption of sugary drinks in boys, but not in girls. "The results can help us better understand the role played by family dinners in improving food intake and whether this positive association exists for all families, regardless of their level of family functioning", explain the researchers .

Family meals improve the quality of youth nutrition

Adolescence and the beginning of adulthood are periods sensitive to the development of obesity. Especially because young people get more freedom to go out with friends, with reduced financial resources, which often push them to fast food and junk food. The quality of the diet often decreases between the end of childhood and the beginning of adulthood. Hence the importance of maintaining family meals, whatever the relationship between family members, even if a strong family cohesion has been associated with a slightly higher consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Since 1975, the number of obese people has almost tripled, according to the World Health Organization. In 2016, 13% of adults in the world were obese, 39% were overweight. In France, it is estimated that 30% of the population is. Every year, the number of obese people increases everywhere on the planet. A new study reinforces concerns about the progression of the disease. According to Danish and British researchers, 22% of the world's population could be obese by 2045 if the situation does not change. In some countries, this rate could be much higher.

Video: Our Supersized Kids (April 2020).