Media Coverage

Family Meal Time May Prevent Disordered Eating in Teens

April 30, 2021
VeryWell Family
Regional Clinical Director Allison Chase, PhD, shares how family meals might help prevent disordered eating.

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A new study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that customs associated with the Mediterranean diet can have a positive influence on adolescent eating habits, particularly around disordered eating.1

The study, conducted by researchers from the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, interviewed families in the Catalonia region of Spain with 12- to 16-year-old children. The parents explained that as their children got older, it was more difficult to connect with them—something that parents everywhere can probably relate to.

The study found that conversing and sharing food around a device-free table is beneficial for adolescents, and it can contribute to their health. The standard Mediterranean meal may be slower, as well, which will help a child to better recognize fullness cues and chew properly.

The families that did not make time for family meals or were distracted by electronics were less likely to engage in pleasant conversation, and they often did not sit at the table together. The families that were less likely to sit down only at their evening meal together were also less likely to follow the Mediterranean diet. 

According to study researcher Anna Bach-Faig, "A healthy diet is not just what we eat but also how we eat it. Mediterranean diet is much more than a list of foods. It is a cultural model which includes how these foods are selected, produced, processed and consumed.”


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