Having set rules around the dinner table has been found to benefit children with asthma and help prevent obesity, according to a new study in the US.
Researchers found that parents given an “ABC recipe” to use at mealtimes focused more on discipline and communication and prevented interruptions by mobile phones and TV.
“When children were part of families that ‘followed the recipe’, their asthma symptoms were less severe and they were more apt to take their medicine,’ said Dr Barbara Fiese, from the University of Illinois’ Family Resiliency Centre where the research was based. She and her team videotaped 200 families with children between the ages of 5 and 12 during meals.
“Family mealtimes, when they’re done right, are linked to many benefits for children, including a reduced risk of substance abuse, eating disorders and obesity,” explained Dr Barbara.
However, the dinner table is hardly the centre of family life, as it may have been in the past. According to another survey of 3,000 adults, the TV has now taken over. Only 5 hours a week are now spent eating with the family, while on average we spend more than double that watching the telly with our relatives.
The study also found that watching box sets of our favourite shows is becoming a new national past time and that many people think they increase sociability because they give them “something to talk about”.
What’s your dinner table to TV ratio?