A Harvard study, reports associations between the frequency with which 9- to 14-year-old children eat dinner with their families and the intakes of foods and nutrients that reflect diet quality. The results show that family dinner is associated with some healthful dietary patterns. Increasing frequency of family dinner was associated with higher consumption of fruits and vegetables and several beneficial nutrients, including fiber, folate, calcium, iron, and vitamins B6, B12, C, and E. It also observed lower consumption of saturated and trans fat, soda, and fried foods, as well as decreased glycemic load, a measure of the diet's propensity to raise blood glucose. Further, it found no material increase in the potentially harmful intakes of whole dairy foods, snack foods, and red and processed meats.
Based on the results of this study, health professionals and teachers may support the efforts of family members to eat together as a means for improving the quality of diet among older children and adolescents.