-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, Dec. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Holiday dinners spent
together as a family -- or any family dinner, for that matter --
can help boost children's intake of healthy fruits and vegetables,
a new study finds.
Children who regularly dine with their families are also more
likely to meet the World Health Organization's recommended daily
intake of five 2.8-ounce portions of fruits and vegetables a day,
according to the British study published online Dec. 19 in the
Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
"The results from this study illustrate a positive health message for parents, which could improve their own dietary habits and their children's," Meaghan Christian, of the School of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, and colleagues said in a journal news release.
The researchers looked at the diets of more than 2,000 London
primary school children. Their parents were asked to provide
information about how often their families ate meals together.
On average, the children in the study ate about 10 ounces (3.7
portions) of fruits and vegetables per day, but children who
sometimes or regularly ate meals with their family consumed more
Compared to children who never ate meals with their families,
those who sometimes ate meals with their families consumed an
average of 3.4 ounces more of fruits and vegetables every day,
while those who regularly ate meals with their families consumed an
average of 4.5 ounces more per day, the study found.
Overall, children who regularly ate meals with their families
met the WHO recommendations of five portions of fruits and
vegetables a day, while those who sometimes or never ate meals with
their families fell short.
Parents' eating habits also had an impact. For example, children
whose parents ate fruits and vegetables every day ate an average of
about 3 ounces more than kids whose parents rarely or never did
Children whose parents always cut up their fruits and vegetables
also ate about 2 ounces more per day than those whose parents did
not help in this way. And for every type of produce consumed in the
home, children's intake increased by about 0.2 ounces daily,
according to the study.
"The key message . . . is for families to eat fruit and vegetables together at a mealtime," the research team concluded.
The Nemours Foundation has more about
children and healthy eating.
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