Families that eat together, without the television on, and who stay seated until everyone has finished eating, have children with lower body weights and less fat.
Positive social skills during dinner override the need to overeat, say the researchers who made the finding.
Parents who talk meaningfully with their children, particularly boys, about their day, over dinner also have lower weight and fat.
“The ritual of where one eats and how long one eats seems to be the largest driver,” said Brian Wansink, professor in Cornell’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management.
The TV must be off, however because eating while watching television can turn people chubby.
“In fact, eating anywhere other than the kitchen or dining room was related to higher BMIs in both parents and in children,” said Wansink.
“Family meals and their rituals might be an underappreciated battleground to fight obesity,” he concluded.
The results are published in the October issue of Obesity.