Thursday, October 16, 2014

Obesity and Interpersonal Dynamics at Family Meals

By: Lewis First, MD, MS; Editor-in-Chief 

Photo by Phyllis Buchanan via Flickr
We certainly run a lot of studies on the role of proper nutrition and exercise in preventing a child from becoming overweight or obese, but what about the dynamics of a family meal itself? Could certain characteristics regarding a family eating together be protective against obesity and other characteristics that contribute to excess weight gain?

Berge et al. (doi:10.1542/peds.2014-1936) performed a cross-sectional observational study in which family meals were videoed in the homes of 120 low-income and minority communities. Communication among family members and other aspects of parent-child and child-sibling dynamics were studied and compared to a child’s weight status. The results are fascinating and indicate the more positive the family dynamic around the table, the less risk of a child being overweight.

While this study cannot prove causality, it is certainly food for thought in regard to our promoting the importance not just having healthy food on the table, but the whole family being gathered together to share and support each other through conversation and other positive dynamics practiced at the family table. Read this study and learn more that you, in turn, can share with your patients’ families.

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