NY Times: The Family Meal Is What Counts, TV On or Off

Television viewing has long been linked with poor eating habits. So when University of Minnesota researchers embarked on a study of family meals, they fully expected that having the TV on at dinner would take a toll on children’s diets.

But to their surprise, it didn’t make much difference. Families who watched TV at dinner ate just about as healthfully as families who dined without it. The biggest factor wasn’t whether the TV was on or off, but whether the family was eating the meal together.

“Obviously, we want people eating family meals, and we want them to turn the TV off,” said Shira Feldman, public health specialist at the university’s School of Public Health and lead author of the research. “But just the act of eating together is on some level very beneficial, even if the TV is on.”

The research, published this month in The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, is the latest testament to the power of the family meal. While many parents worry about what their kids are eating ”” vegetables versus junk ”” a voluminous body of research suggests that the best strategy for improving a child’s diet is simply putting food on the table and sitting down together to eat it.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Marriage & Family

3 comments on “NY Times: The Family Meal Is What Counts, TV On or Off

  1. DonGander says:

    “Having the TV on during the meal, while not desirable, can also serve a purpose if it helps bring sullen teenagers and families to the table. ”

    Why is it a given that parents are unable to control their children and teenagers? “Thank you, Dr. Spock”, I suppose! What a mess we have made of our culture! Why is the Church so helpless in its example?

    For years our only TV was on third floor with no cable TV. How pleasant life was, how good the food was at dinner with happy conversation. What exceeding good would I trade for that?

  2. CharlesB says:

    When we had children at home, the TV went off at dinner time. It was an excellent reason to turn it off. After dinner time, on school nights, each of the two boys could watch one hour of TV between then and bedtime, but only if their homework was done. This worked well for us. In general, the less TV the better.

  3. libraryjim says:

    we have a TV off during dinner time rule as well. But we do make exceptions, if we are having a late dinner for some reason, and there is a program we all want to see on then.

    But for the most part, it’s everyone to the table, NOW. And it’s worked pretty well for 19 years.