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Monday 26th August 2019

Five-a-day aided by family meals

20th December 2012

Children are more likely to reach their five-a-day fruit and vegetable target when families eat meals together, according to a new study.


The findings from the team at the University of Leeds said dining together - even once a week - can improve the diet of young children and help them eat more fruit and veg.

They surveyed 2,389 children at 52 London primary schools and found that 63% did not eat the World Health Organisation recommended amount of five portions (400g) of fruit and veg a day.

However, those who ate a family meal did consume 1.5 portions more fruit and veg on average than children who never ate with their families.

Professor Janet Cade from the university’s School of Food Science and Nutrition said: “Even if it’s just one family meal a week, when children eat together with parents or older siblings they learn about eating.

“Watching the way their parents or siblings eat and the different types of food they eat is pivotal in creating their own food habits and preferences.”

The study was conducted by Meaghan Christian as part of her PhD who said that while modern life often prevents families from dining together, the research showed that even just Sunday lunch around the table can help improve diets.

In addition, the study acknowledged there were other benefits of families eating together such as conversation and opportunities to improve manners and behaviour.

The study used a questionnaire separated into a School Food Diary and a Home Food Diary.


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