Sit the kids down … and have dinner: teens eat more veggies when parents are at the table

Sit the kids down … and have dinner: teens eat more veggies when parents are at the table

Thomas Sexton

GETTING YOUR TEENAGER TO eat more veggies may be as simple as having a communal meal. A recent study found that teens who dine with their folks are much more likely to eat healthfully than those who eat solo.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it turns out that the pattern holds true even for families in which the kids are allowed to choose what they eat. The study appears in the Journal of Adolescent Health and was based on interviews with more than 18,000 adolescents.

Teens’ diets are far from balanced: More than 70 percent don’t eat an adequate number of vegetable servings per day, and roughly half skimp on fruits and dairy products.

Teens who eat at least six meals per week with one or both parents are nearly 40 percent more likely to meet their daily vegetable requirement, according to researchers. They are also better about eating fruits and dairy products and less likely to skip breakfast.

Tami M. Videon, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City and lead author of the study, thinks kids learn nutrition by example. “When children see their parents eating beans and vegetables, they think that’s what they should be doing,” she says.

Adolescence, says Videon, is a particularly important time in terms of nutrition, as teens tend to carry their eating habits–good or bad–into adulthood.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Sussex Publishers, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group