Sharing a meal with your loved ones reduces your risk of obesity and can improve your overall well-being, a new study on eating habits and health shows.
Researchers from the Open University of Catalonia Foodlab interviewed 12 two-parent families with children aged 12 to 16 about their meals and overall health.
They found that family routines, such as sharing food, sitting around a table without digital devices or having a pleasant conversation, are beneficial.
This Mediterranean meal promotes conversation and slower eating, which helps kids recognize the feeling of fullness and thus prevents obesity, they said.
Sharing a meal with your loved ones reduces your risk of obesity and can improve your overall well-being, a new study on eating habits and health shows. Stock image
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A MEDITERRANEAN SEA?
Previous research from Maastricht University in the Netherlands found that adopting a Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of developing the most deadly form of breast cancer by 40 percent.
Experts from the University of Barcelona also believe that the range of nutrients in the diet makes children less likely to develop ADHD.
In fact, Cambridge University found that adopting such a diet would save about 2,000 lives in Britain a year by preventing deaths from heart attacks and strokes.
In fact, researchers at the IRCCS Neuromed Institute in Pozzilli, Italy, suggest that doctors prescribe olive oil, vegetables, and nuts before statins to reduce a patient’s risk of heart attack.
The main function of the study was to investigate an important feature of the Mediterranean diet: socialization during meals and how it affects children’s health.
“At a time when pandemic lockdown has revived family meals, this research points to one of the potentially positive aspects of the situation we have faced,” explains researcher Anna Bach-Faig.
The team primarily interviewed the mother in each of the 12 families and then analyzed one of the least studied aspects of the Mediterranean diet: socialization.
They wanted to understand how talking at mealtimes and how we eat in a family group affects our health.
‘Healthy eating is not just what we eat, but also how we eat it,’ explains Bach-Faig.
“The Mediterranean diet is much more than a list of foods, it is a cultural model that considers how these foods are selected, produced, processed and consumed.”
To determine the level of socializing in the families studied, the researchers analyzed the frequency and duration of family meals, where they took place, the use of digital devices, the preparation of the food, and the type of communication.
According to the study, most families ate the evening meal alone together, and habits varied according to whether they ate alone or with their loved ones.
According to the team behind the study, family meals were seen as a place for communication and socialization.
When families spent less time with them, were not at the table, were distracted by digital devices, or did not have a pleasant conversation during these meetings, they also followed the Mediterranean diet to a lesser extent.
For most parents, family meals were especially important when they had teenage children, as they foster conversation and closer family ties.
“It’s easier when kids are little, but in puberty there is a gap between you and them and you can get a little insight into their world thanks to these conversations,” explains one of the mothers interviewed.
In addition, the majority felt that through these family gatherings, parents become role models and help establish healthy patterns for their children.
This impression is consistent with the results of other studies showing that eating together in a family setting is linked to healthier eating, with more fruits and vegetables and fewer sugary drinks.
They found that family meals, such as sharing food, sitting around a table without digital devices or having a pleasant conversation, are beneficial. Stock image
For nutritionist Bach-Faig, it is essential to maintain eating traditions in order to maintain the benefits of the Mediterranean diet and promote the health of the younger generations.
For several decades, however, the Mediterranean diet has been losing influence in light of the so-called ‘Western diet’, characterized by the predominance of processed foods and fast eating, often in front of the television.
The study emphasizes that it is crucial to take these aspects into account to promote healthy nutrition in adolescents and to design public health campaigns.
An example was a campaign in Catalonia with the participation of researchers from this study.
‘Just as we recommend 5 fruits and vegetables per day’, explains Bach-Fair, ‘we could also suggest at least one family meal per day’.
The findings are published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
OBESITY: ADULTS WITH A BMI OVER 30 ARE CONSIDERED AS OBESE
Obesity is defined as an adult with a BMI of 30 or higher.
The BMI of a healthy person – calculated by dividing weight in kg by height in meters and the answer by height – is between 18.5 and 24.9.
In children, obesity is defined as being in the 95th percentile.
Percentiles compare young people with others of the same age.
For example, if a three-month-old child is in the 40th percentile for weight, it means that 40 percent of the three-month-old weighs the same or less than that baby.
About 58 percent of women and 68 percent of men in the UK are overweight or obese.
The condition costs the NHS about £ 6.1 billion every year, on a budget of about £ 124.7 billion.
This is due to obesity which increases a person’s risk of a number of life-threatening conditions.
Such conditions include type 2 diabetes, which can cause kidney disease, blindness and even limb amputations.
Research indicates that at least one in six hospital beds in the UK is admitted to a diabetic.
Obesity also increases the risk of heart disease, which kills 315,000 people annually in the UK – making it the leading cause of death.
Carrying dangerous amounts of weight has also been linked to 12 different cancers.
This includes the breast, which affects one in eight women at some point in their lives.
In children, research suggests that 70 percent of obese young people have high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol, which puts them at risk for heart disease.
Obese children are also significantly more likely to become obese adults.
And when children are overweight, their obesity is often worse in adulthood.
As many as one in five children in the UK are overweight or obese in school, rising to one in three by the time they turn 10.