Harvard Mental Health Letter

In Brief: Regular family meals may reduce risk of eating disorders in girls

In Brief

Regular family meals may reduce risk of eating disorders in girls

A study published in January 2008 provides further support for making time for regular family meals. Previous reports by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse have concluded that teenagers who eat regularly with their families are less likely to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, or try marijuana.

The latest study, by researchers at the University of Minnesota, suggests that adolescent girls who eat meals frequently with their families are less likely than other girls to develop eating disorders later on.

The researchers studied 2,516 adolescents at 31 Minnesota schools. Both male and female students completed two surveys, one in 1999 and another in 2004, to report how often they ate meals with their families and how emotionally connected they felt to their families. Participants also provided information about body mass index (BMI) and eating behaviors.

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