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Family Mealtimes

Worth the Effort?

  1. Susan K. Hamilton
    1. Brescia University College, University of Western Ontario, c/o #300-1285 Western Road, London, ON Canada N6G 1H2
  2. Jane Hamilton Wilson
    1. Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, shamil25{at}uwo.ca


Family mealtimes are an important opportunity to develop strong parent and child relationships and a sense of family connectedness and belonging. Research focusing on the importance of family meals affirms the positive outcomes learned from time spent around the family dinner table. This simple family activity has a significant impact on family communication and functioning, the development of healthy eating patterns in children, and improved literacy and school performance in school-age and teen students, and it also acts as a significant protective factor in reducing the risk for adolescent mental health problems and addiction. This article will review the recent published literature on family mealtimes to ascertain and affirm the role they play in childhood and adolescent development, family functioning, and nutritional choices. The article will conclude with recommendations for families to be creative in making time for family meals. These recommendations will also be of benefit to dietitians and other health care professionals who work with families with children.

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