Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Dinners with TV & Why Midwesterners are Bigger

This is an interesting study that falls in line with a lot of what I think in general about food, family, and health. (And yes, I do think about health when it comes to food, contrary to popular belief!)

As an aside, I've often noted to people that people are simply bigger in the Midwest - taller, not as scrawny, etc. - while in NYC and to an extent LA, people are much shorter and smaller. I've posited that perhaps this is due to a greater obsession with looks and fashion, and therefore, an overemphasis by many to not eat to avoid being fat, but this article threw in other factors which may play a role, too:

The biggest effect was seen among the kids who didn’t eat regular family meals at all. Girls who dined alone ate fewer fruits, vegetables and calcium-rich foods and more soft drinks and snack foods than girls who ate with their parents. And girls who ate with their parents ate more calories — up to 14 percent more, suggesting that dining alone puts girls at higher risk for eating disorders. Boys who didn’t eat with their parents had fewer vegetables and calcium-rich foods than family diners.

The lesson for parents, say the study authors, is that being together at dinner is what counts. Having the TV on during the meal, while not desirable, can also serve a purpose if it helps bring sullen teenagers and families to the table.

Why a family meal can make such a difference isn’t entirely clear. It may be that parents simply put better food on the table when everyone gets together. People dining alone tend to eat pizza, for instance, while families who order pizza together tend to put vegetables or a salad on the table, Ms. Feldman noted.

It may also be that dining together allows parents to set a better eating example for their kids. And mealtime is often the only chance parents have to actually look over their busy teenagers, catch up on their lives and visually assess behavioral or physical changes that might signal problems.

This makes me think that perhaps it's the overly busy lifestyles of people in places such as NYC and LA that causes people to not spend as much time together... and therefore, based on this research, eat less. Eating less means growing less, which in turn translates into me being on the short end of my elementary class at 6 feet tall, but one of the tallest people while I was in college or now at work. Interesting.

Yet another reason to move, right? ;)