Family Mealtime Improves Health, Strengthens Family Bonds

From nutrition experts to pediatric researchers, much attention has been devoted to the importance of family mealtime in recent headlines. The reason why is important: Research shows that eating a meal together three times per week improves health and strengthens family bonds. With this in mind, United Way recently launched a campaign called “Eat Together,” which educates the community about the many physical and mental benefits of sharing a meal as a family.

United Way encourages families who support quality time around the dinner table to “like” the Eat Together Facebook page to receive recipes, articles and tips to make mealtime fun and rewarding. Simply go to for more information.

The benefits of eating a meal as a family three times per week are significant. The benefits include a 12 percent reduction in the odds of being overweight; a 20 percent reduction in eating unhealthy foods; and a 24 percent increase in the odds of eating healthy foods. Aside from the physical benefits, there are many mental and emotional benefits as well: Shared time together can increase confidence, reduce risky behaviors such as alcohol and drug use, reduce depression, reduce eating disorders, and create more trusting relationships.

For some families, it is not easy to devote time to sitting down to a meal together. With people’s busy schedules and increasing list of distractions, it can be difficult to focus. United Way and the Eat Together campaign share the seven following tips to make family mealtime a success:

1. Put away handheld electronics
2. Turn off the TV
3. Celebrate successes
4. Play games
5. Share stories
6. Problem solve
7. Laugh