Family dinners promote healthier eating, often with fewer calories, as part of an achievable strategy to battle child obesity

In celebration of National Nutrition Month, there is no better time to make a commitment to eat more meals together as a family.

Family meals offer a great opportunity to not only spend time together and strengthen family relationships, they are also a great time for parents to be good role models for health eating, Angel Ginn, a registered dietitian-nutritionist in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, said in a news release distributed by Newswise, a research-reporting service.

“Research shows that family meals promote healthier eating – more fruits, vegetables and fiber; less fried food; and often fewer calories,” Ginn said.

Kentucky high-school students rank third in the U.S. in obesity, with 33.4 percent overweight or obese. Elementary and middle school students rank eighth, and pre-kindergarteners rank sixth. Only 11.6 percent of adolescents in Kentucky eat fruits and vegetables three or more times in an average week, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Suggestions to add more family meals to the household routine include:
  • Start slowly. Add one more family meal a week to your family’s normal schedule. This can be added on the weekends if the weekly schedule is too busy.
  • Plan meals together; make sure everyone has something they like at the meal.
  • Make a  ritual out of setting the table in a special way; for example, using candles or colored napkins.
  • Talk to each other, choosing topics that are positive.
  • No electronics at the table, and turn off the television. Playing background music is a nice way to create a relaxing atmosphere and also signals that it is time to eat.
Ginn also suggested the website Kids Eat Right ( as a resource to help families get on the path of shopping smart, cooking healthy and eating right.
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