Sacramento, Calif. – Dairy Council of California is bringing together National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month (September) and National Eat Better, Eat Together Month (October) to offer one easy step toward improving our national health crisis. Because children who eat with their families have healthier diets, are less likely to be overweight and do better in school than their peers, Dairy Council of California is launching the Eat Better, Eat Together Family Meal Pledge on Facebook to encourage more balanced family meals.
A recent research review published in Pediatrics, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, found that children and adolescents who eat three or more meals with their families per week are 24 percent more likely to eat healthy foods and 12 percent less likely to be overweight than peers who do not eat with their families as often. This finding reaffirms other studies, which show that when families eat together, they tend to eat better, with higher daily intakes of foods that contain important nutrients like calcium, fiber, iron, protein, vitamins B6 and B12, C and E, and lower intakes of dietary fat.
"As a registered dietitian, I know that serving balanced meals-with foods from all the food groups-provides the health benefits of family meals," said Trina Robertson, M.S., R.D., project manager with Dairy Council of California and mom of two. "As a mom, I also know that family meals are a great opportunity to turn off technology and connect as a family, which can even help my kids excel in school."
From language skills to grades, research links interaction between adults and children during family meals to academic gains. Family meals expose children to a more diverse vocabulary and were linked in one study to greater language acquisition and later academic success. Ongoing research by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA) has also found that teens who eat with their families most often are more likely to get A's and B's in their classes.
The Eat Better, Eat Together Pledge, available on Facebook.com/DairyCouncilofCalifornia is designed to help families start or strengthen a commitment to balanced family meals. After taking the pledge, participants will receive meal suggestions with recipes and tips for putting together fast, flavorful family meals with foods from all five food groups-milk and milk products; fruits; vegetables; grains, breads and cereals; and meat, beans and nuts. A blog series on both Dairy Council of California's website and its free family-nutrition and meal-planning website Meals Matter will help participants plan, prepare and enjoy family meals. A post-pledge survey to be completed in November will give families the chance to win free groceries.
About Dairy Council of California
Serving as the dairy industry's contribution to community health, Dairy Council of California creates science-based nutrition-education curriculum and resources that help children and families improve their eating habits and make nutrient-rich food choices from all food groups. For nearly a century, Dairy Council of California has partnered with schools, health professionals and community leaders to offer California families simple steps for making balanced food choices while sharing the essential role that milk and milk products play in a balanced diet. Healthy Eating Made Easier®
About Meals Matter
Maintained by the registered-dietitian moms with Dairy Council of California, MealsMatter.org is a free family-nutrition and meal-planning website dedicated to helping families improve their eating habits with nutritious meals and snacks.
Source: Dairy Council of California