Posted on Jan 02, 2013, 6 a.m.
Meals at which the entire family dines together encourage children to consume fruits and vegetables.
In that the World Health Organization recommends that people consume five 80-gram servings of fruits and vegetables a day, the United Kingdom Department of Health enacted the “5 A Day” Campaign to aid the achievement of this dietary goal. Meaghan S Christian, from the University of Leeds (United Kingdom), and colleagues analyzed data collected in 2,383 children (mean age 8.3 years) who were attending one of 52 primary schools in London. The children's diet was assessed using a standardized assessment scale; data collected also included items regarding mealtime behaviors and parental attitudes. On average, the participants consumed 293 grams of fruits and vegetables -- or about 3.7 servings -- each day. Only 37% of the children consumed the recommended five daily servings. After adjusting for confounding factors, the researchers found that children from families that reported "always" eating a family meal together ate, on average, 125 more grams of fruits and vegetables – as compared with those from families that "never" ate a meal together. Eating a family meal together "sometimes" was associated with consumption of 95 grams more. Writing that: “This study identified that … family consumption of [fruits and vegetables] facilitates children's intake,” the study authors urge that: “Eating a family meal together regularly could increase children's [fruits and vegetables] intake and help them achieve the recommended intake.”
Meaghan S Christian, Charlotte E L Evans, Neil Hancock, Camilla Nykjaer, Janet E Cade. “Family meals can help children reach their 5 A Day: a cross-sectional survey of children's dietary intake from London primary schools.” J Epidemiol Community Health, 19 December 2012.