Researchers have found that children who often ate meals with their family at the age of 6 years old had better social skills and general fitness by the age of 10, compared with those who rarely spent mealtimes with their family.
Study co-author Linda Pagani, of the Université de Montréal in Canada, and colleagues recently reported their new findings in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.
This is not the first study to suggest that frequent family meals offer health benefits. One study published in 2011, for example, found that children who ate at least three meals with their family per week were less likely to be overweight than those who had fewer than three family meals weekly.
But according to Pagani, such studies have some shortfalls. “In the past,” she says, “researchers were unclear on whether families that ate together were simply healthier to begin with.”