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Families are finding out the benefits to eating together

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Following more than 10 years of research, The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University consistently found that kids who eat dinner with their families are less likely to smoke, drink or use drugs.

Lynda Johnson, University of Missouri Extension nutrition and health education specialist, said family meals are not only a simple, effective tool to help prevent substance abuse in kids, but are also good for children’s nutrition.

“Many child experts indicate that regular family meals are one of the best ways to help children and teens be fit, healthy and ready to succeed,” said Johnson. “Young people who spend more time eating and talking with their families are more likely to do well in school, maintain a healthy weight and get the nutrition they need. They are less likely to use drugs, alcohol and tobacco, and less likely to develop eating disorders. They are also less likely to have sex, get into fights and have thoughts of suicide.”

Family mealtime helps foster a sense of connectedness for children and provides an opportunity to focus on family communication. Positive conversations during meals are ideal for strengthening family relationships, sharing family values and helping parents understand the challenges that children face today.

In addition to the opportunity for family interactions, family mealtime is also the ideal setting to teach children the benefits of healthy eating. Johnson suggests using mealtimes to show kids how to eat slowly and enjoy their food and to talk about how eating healthy foods helps people grow strong and have energy.

Read more of this article from MissouriFamilies.Org

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