By Min Seo Jeong
Researchers at The Ohio State University conducted a study on the relationship between family meals and obesity rates. Rachel Tumin, who works at the Ohio Colleges of Medicine Government Resource Center as a survey and population health analyst manager, and Sarah Anderson, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University’s College of Public Health, focused on two family mealtime practices: home-cooked meals and watching the TV.
The study showed that the odds of obesity were lower in adults who ate home-cooked meals for every family meal than in those who ate fewer to no home-cooked meals. Additionally, adults who did not watch TV or videos during the family meals had lower odds than those who did. Adults who engaged in a combination of both home-cooked meals and no TV during the family meals had the lowest obesity rates.
An important aspect of the study’s results is that the frequency of family meals did not have significant impacts on obesity compared to the practices themselves. Adults who ate family meals every day of the week had the same obesity rates as those who ate family meals once or twice a week. Tumin regards this aspect as a plus. "Families have a lot of demands and they can feel pressured to do things 'right' all the time,” she said. “This study showed potential benefits regardless of how often you eat a family meal at home."
Although the study does not provide a direct link between family meals and obesity, previous studies have shown that the social and emotional benefits that come from family meals encourage lower obesity rates.
The analysis was made with data from the 2012 Ohio Medicaid Assessment Survey, which asked participants about their frequency of family meals and whether they watch TV during meals, along with measurements of height and weight.
Ohio State University. "Cooking family meals, skipping TV during those meals linked to lower odds of obesity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 March 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170323183130.htm>.