The Importance of Family Meals: Reduce Problem Behaviors

Mother with two daughters eating dessert at the table.This is the seventh blog in a series exploring the benefits of eating meals together as a family.

This report comes from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Bisakha Sen, scholar at the Lister Hill Center said, “Increased frequency of family dinners is associated with lower probabilities of all substance-use and running away for females; binge-drinking, physical fights, property-destruction, stealing and running away for males; and less marijuana use for both genders. In addition, these effects are evident even when the empirical models control for good family connectedness, close parental monitoring, and other potential confounders.”

The main threats to teenagers’ health in the United States are the health-risk behaviors they engage in and the choices they make.

Family connectedness helps to protect against a wide array of health-risk behaviors including substance use, perpetration of violence and early sexual activity. By providing structure and stability and improving family communication, eating family meals together is one aspect of family life that  consistently brings positive outcomes for young people.

A full report of Dr. Bisakha’s research on family meals and adolescent problem behaviors can be found in the Journal of Adolescence.

Life gets busy, but don’t overlook the value of family meals!