Family meals becoming relic of past

NZ Herald 14 Jan 2012
One in five people say they almost never eat with other family members at the dinner table, a survey shows. The Herald-DigiPoll survey found nearly half (47.5 per cent) of those questioned enjoyed dinner with family at least five times a week, 21.4 per cent said they “almost never” sat down at the family dinner table, while 15.6 per cent said they still found time once or twice a week to share dinner with family, and 13.4 per cent had the evening meal with other family members up to four times a week.

AUT University lecturer in health and environmental sciences and registered nutritionist Dr Mikki Williden said research showed regular, shared dinners were linked to lower rates of risky teenage behaviour. There was also evidence to suggest shared meals helped to protect pre-teens against developing eating disorders and reduced the risk of obesity.

A 2011 report commissioned by the Families Commission showed about a third of young people shared meals with their families at least seven times a week. The report showed students who had family meals had better family relationships, better communication and more parental support for healthy eating.