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Family Meals Keep Obesity at Bay

Update Date: Oct 03, 2014 06:08 PM EDT

Eating with the family reduces the risk of obesity, according to a new study on adolescents.

Family meals tend to be healthier and contain more fruits, vegetable, calcium and whole grains. Therefore, frequent family meals could help reduce the risk of obesity in teens.

Researchers used data from a 10-year study that involved 2,287 participants to assess weight-related variables among adolescents. Participants also answered questions about family meal frequency and body mass index.

"It is important to identify modifiable factors in the home environment, such as family meals, that can protect against overweight/obesity through the transition to adulthood," researcher Jerica M. Berge said in a news release.

The findings revealed that 51 percent of the participants were overweight and 22 percent were obese. The study also revealed that 60 percent of teens who never ate with the family were overweight and 29 percent were obese. However, having as few as one to two family meals a week can make all the difference in protecting teens from gaining excess weight.

The study also revealed a stronger protective effect of family meal frequency and obesity among black adolescents.

"Informing parents that even having 1 or 2 family meals per week may protect their child from overweight or obesity in young adulthood would be important," Berge concluded.

The findings were published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

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