The Importance of Family Meals: Risky Behaviors

Teen boy resisting peer pressure from 4 other teens.This is the fifth blog in a series exploring the benefits of eating meals together as a family.

This report is from the School of Medicine of Cardiff University in the United Kingdom. Their report says:

Despite evidence that frequent family meals are associated with low levels of substance use during adolescence, prior studies have not examined the role of how adolescents perceive mealtimes. We examined family meal frequency, family connectedness, perceived priority, atmosphere and structure of mealtimes as predictors of alcohol and tobacco consumption, using data from 550 adolescents (50% boys; age range 11-16). Frequent family meals were significantly associated with a lower likelihood of alcohol and tobacco use. However, this association was explained by adolescents’ perception of the atmosphere at mealtimes. These findings suggest adolescents’ perception of the mealtime environment contributes to family meals’ protective effect.

So, it’s important to have family meals together and it’s also important that the youngsters in your family feel that there is a quality atmosphere at the time of the meal.

Include your kids in planning the meals and in the atmosphere at mealtime. Be sure that they look forward to meals and that everyone enjoys the food and the time spent together as a family.

More benefits of eating together coming in the next posts in this series.