Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Recipe for the Perfect Family Meal

Yesterday a fascinating new study published in Pediatrics. Researchers studied the video recordings of 120 families' meals for over a week to try to tease out what family meal factors were most associated with overweight and obesity in children. Not only were where the meals taking place studied, but also who was there, how long they lasted, and then what sort of interpersonal relationships were seen at the table (both between parents, between parents and kids, and between kids themselves).

Before I get to the results it goes without saying that these results can't distinguish between cause and effect - meaning that it's unclear if the relationships described by the study, if adopted, would in fact prevent weight gain (or lead to loss). That said, given how easy and straightforward many are, I thought it would be worthwhile to publish a simple recipe for healthful family meals based on the study's findings.

The Perfect Family Meal
  1. Takes place in the kitchen
  2. Lasts for 18 minutes or longer
  3. Has at least one (or ideally both) parents present
  4. Is consumed alongside attentive, warm and supportive conversation
  5. Includes a positive discussion of the foods involved (not a discussion in terms of weight or good/bad, but rather such things as where the food came from, what it might be like to grow it, other meals that might be enjoyable from similar/same ingredients, etc.)
and while not found to be significant in the study I'd still add:

       6.  No screens (TV, phones, or other).