As time-starved Britons continue to work longer and longer hours, increasing the chances that the family won't eat together during the day at all, let alone for both the first and last meals, a new study suggests it has never been more important to ensure that adults and kids sit down to break bread in the same place, at the same time. Researchers at the University of Agder in Norway have revealed some fascinating findings following the analysis of 8,000 children, and their eating habits. Put simply, the results show that eating breakfast with parents present could mean the little ones are up to 40% less likely to be overweight. That's a significant claim, especially when read in a country fast becoming one of the fattest on the planet.
There are, of course, several factors that need to be taken into account, although they all suggest that a shared meal is much better for the family unity as a whole. In addition to the obvious forming of bonds and display of interest in one another that usually help make a happy homestead, breakfasts made by an adult are much more likely to be nutritious and good for the youngster, which probably won't shock anyone blessed with a sugar-addicted adolescent. As you might expect, the effect was similar when it came to the evening meal, with a 30% reduction in the risk of little Joe or Josephine becoming overweight, again for the same reasons - an all-round better diet. What's perhaps more surprising is the fact that the opposite is apparently true for children eating lunch with their parents, and although there's no evidence to support the theory, this could be because there's more of a likelihood that 'lunchtime' will be sedentary when spent at home with the folks. Clearly, then, there's plenty parents can take away from this, and interestingly it all comes down to some traditional family values: the importance of shared meal times, and of course the need for kids to get out and play whenever and wherever possible, rather than sit inside. It's worth noting that none of the children involved in the study were from the UK, but given the difference in expected working week between people in Britain and the eight European countries involved in the study, by rights the findings should resonate more here than anywhere else.