Shared Family Meals
A meta-analysis of academic studies totaling a sample size of 182,836 children and adolescents found that the frequency of shared family meals is significantly related to nutritional health in children and adolescents. Sharing family meals three or more times per week is more likely to promote a normal weight range and healthier dietary and eating patterns than sharing family meals less frequently. The 2005 documentary The Family Meal is a great resource for illustrating the intimate parent and child perceptions of shared family meals.
Home Cooked Foods
Educators across the country are finding creative ways to involve children in the production of food with school gardens and cooking demonstrations. The importance here is the value of wholesome and fresh ingredients used to cook meals from scratch. The school food system and home environment need to work together to reinforce the “fresh food is best” message.
We know that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under 2 years old and no more than one to two hours per day for older children. Studies show that increased TV use is a significant factor for obesity and decreased school achievement.
Let’s Move Pittsburgh at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is tackling all of these health behaviors. Let’s Move Pittsburgh is raising awareness about the benefits of healthy foods, increased exercise and decreased screen time for children. It is a collaborative effort of organizations in southwestern Pennsylvania committed to addressing childhood obesity.
Let’s Move Pittsburgh launched the 10,000 Tables Pledge, challenging local families to cook at least one or more meals from scratch and screen-time free per week. To date, 3,709 Pittsburgh families have taken the pledge, and we have been providing them with regular support to help them reach their goals through workshops, cooking demonstrations, community events and a monthly e-newsletter featuring tip sheets, meal ideas, recipes and an online meal tracker.
Let's answer one more question. How are we going to encourage our students and families to cook homemade meals and eat dinner together?
-Hannah Hardy, Let's Move Pittsburgh
Hammons, A., & Fiese, B. (2011). Is frequency of shared family meals related to the nutritional health of children and adolescents?. Pediatrics, 127(6), e1565-e1574. doi:10.1542/peds.2010-1440
AAP (2011). Media Education. Pediatrics, 126(5), p1012 - p1017. doi: 10.1542/peds.2010-1636
American Public Health Association [APHA] (2014). Obesity infographic. Retrieved from http://action.apha.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Obesity_Infographic