-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Feb. 4 (HealthDay News) -- The quality of family
mealtimes can affect the health of children with asthma, new
In the study, U.S. researchers observed the mealtime
interactions of members of 200 families with children aged 5 to 12
with persistent asthma.
While children with asthma generally take medicine before
exercise or in a particular season, children with persistent asthma
need medication more often, need to avoid different allergens, and
usually maintain regular schedules to control the disease.
The new study found that mealtimes lasted an average of only 18
minutes but that the quality of interaction between family members
was directly related to the children's health, including how their
lungs worked, their asthma symptoms, and their quality of life.
Essentially, children with persistent asthma had better health
if they were in families that spent mealtimes discussing the day's
events, showed genuine interest about their children's activities,
and turned off electronic devices while eating.
Mealtimes with more disruptions -- such as watching TV or
talking on cell phones -- and less shared communication were more
common among single-parent families, minority families and families
in which the primary caregiver had lower levels of education. In
turn, children with persistent asthma in these families had poorer
health, the researchers said.
The study is published in the January/February issue of the
"Mealtimes represent a regular event for the vast majority of families with young, school-age and adolescent children," study leader Barbara H. Fiese, a professor of human and community development and director of the Family Resiliency Center at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, said in a news release from the Society for Research in Child Development.
"[Mealtimes] provide an optimal setting for public health initiatives and prevention efforts, and can be considered by policymakers and practitioners as a straightforward and accessible way to improve the health and wellbeing of children with asthma," she added.
The American Lung Association has more about
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