Research shows meal habits linked to wellbeing

Dominion Post 10 Nov 2011
Teenagers who sit down to family meals are less likely to be depressed or take risks with drugs, alcohol and sex, new research shows. A new study commissioned by the Families Commission looking at the role of family meals in the health and wellbeing of young people is the first study on the issue in New Zealand. It uses data collected nationally from more than 9000 secondary school pupils.

It finds that those who eat with their families frequently are less likely to report suicidal thoughts, less likely to be smokers and less likely to indulge in binge-drinking, marijuana use and inconsistent contraception. It says social changes such as more television channels, more mothers working and cheap fast food have altered the status of the family meal. However, the good news for New Zealand is that one-third of young people reported sharing meals with their families seven or more times a week and an additional 40 per cent shared meals three to six times a week.