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Eating With Family At The Dinner Table Linked To Lower BMI

Update Date: Oct 30, 2013 02:20 PM EDT

A family dinner eaten at the dining table may influence your weight status according to a new study. 

"Where one eats and how long one eats seems to be a driver of the weight one gains," reports the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab. "Such behavior may be related to less distracted eating or more supervision."

Researchers Dr. Brian Wansink from Cornell University and Dr. Ellen van Kleef from Wageningen University, NL studied the relationship between family dinners and the BMI's of their children. 

"The body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat that compares weight to height," reported Cornell. "Studies have shown that lifestyle factors such as physical activity, eating breakfast every day and income are associated with this frequently used measure of weight status."

For the study, researchers had 190 parents complete a survey detailing their family's habits during mealtimes. Questions ranged from how many times they discussed about their day while eating together during a normal week.

Researchers then recorded the weight and height of the parents and their children. 

Researchers found that, "The higher the BMI of parents, the more frequent they indicated to eat with the TV on," according to the study. "Eating at the table in the dining room or kitchen was linked to lower BMIs for both children and parents." 

Researchers also found that boys who had a social dinner experience tended to have lower BMI's in families that stayed at the table until everyone was done eating. This affected parents in the same way too.

"What is important, however, is that these results underline the importance of the social aspect of sharing a meal as a family on BMI, since watching television, for example, correlated with higher BMI in the parents," reported Cornell. "These interactions may replace overeating with stronger, more positive feelings."

Researchers suggests that if you want to stay at a healthy weight a more interactive dinner would be helpful in doing that while bringing the family socially together. 

"A good place to start would be to eat together with the television off and then asking the kids to list their highlights of the day," reported Cornell. 

The findings are published in the journal Obesity.

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