Eating together establishes good habits later in life, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota. In the study of more than 1,500 people, surveyed once during high school and then again when they were 20 years old, participants were asked questions about how often they ate with their families, how much they liked sitting down to dinner with family and friends, if they had a tendency to eat and run, and how often they ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The results showed that those who ate meals with family as adolescents were more likely to eat fruit and dark green and orange vegetables and drink fewer soft drinks as young adults. The frequency of family meals during adolescence also predicted eating meals more frequently as adults. Those who experienced more family meals were more likely to have higher intakes of key nutrients, such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, and the like.
The researchers say the results demonstrate that structured meal times with family are associated with improved diet quality for young adults. Families should be encouraged to share meals together as often as is practically possible.