A recent study found that eating family dinners can increase children’s fruit and vegetable consumption–even if families only eat together once or twice per week. We emailed Meaghan Christian, a researcher on the study, to find out more.
How old were the kids involved in this study. Were they of similar backgrounds?
The children had a mean age of 8 years-old. Their backgrounds were quite diverse as it was a large study conducted in London.
Your research found that children who always ate a family meal consumed 1.5 more portions of fruit and vegetables than children who didn’t eat with their families. Was this 1.5 more portions per day or week?
This was per day, as the study used data collected over a 24-hour period.
Does the meal necessarily have to be dinner? Does family breakfast or lunch work just as well?
Eating a meal together is always a positive experience for the family. We didn’t do any research relating to breakfast or lunch, but remember that every little bit counts. Simply cutting up fruit or vegetables and eating them with your child can increase his or her fruit and vegetable intake.
Aside from having family dinner together at least once a week, what tips would you give parents looking to boost their kid’s fruit and vegetable intake?
In addition to cutting up fruit and vegetables to eat together, try grating vegetables (e.g. carrots into meals such as spaghetti to hide the vegetables) or eating frozen grapes as a refreshing treat during the summer. It takes time for children to like a new fruit or vegetable, so don’t give up if they don’t like them the first time.
Image via. For space reasons, this interview was slightly edited and condensed.