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Family Meals Don’t Benefit Children

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According to conventional wisdom and previous studies, shared meals help families cement relations and bolster children’s academic performances.

But a new study co-authored by Boston University School of Social Work assistant professor Daniel Miller says the benefits may not be as strong as suspected.

The study was reported in this article in Today’s Dietician.

The study analyzed 21,400 children ages five to 15. When researchers controlled for a host of confounding factors they did not find a correlation between family meals and child academic outcome or behavior.

“We find no relationship between family breakfasts or family dinners and any child outcomes—reading, math and science scores, or behavior problems,” Miller said. “That didn’t change according to the age of the kids or even how we measured family meals: whether it was three meals a week, five meals a week or nine meals a week didn’t seem to matter.”

To learn more about cutting-edge research done by social workers visit the website of the National Association of Social Workers’ Social Work Research journal by clicking here.



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  1. “Family dinners” were the time of day my parents had free reign in criticizing everything about me. Certainly didn’t benefit me while growing up!

  2. This is disappointing and I hope this is not a widely publicized study. The family structure is already fractured enough without telling families there is no value to shared meals. In my childhood it was the only time in the day we sat down for 20 minutes and focused on each other and that was invaluable.

  3. Families meals, and ANY time spent with my children – particularly story time – were always very special. I find it very hard to believe that these ‘studies’ are indeed accurate.

  4. Everyone’s score is the same in the schools, even when the quality of work is not. use am IQ test top give a more accurate depiction. It’s already been proven that the schools pass everyone regardless of the work they do.

  5. It’s long been stated that children in families who eat meals together weekly do better, not because of those meals, but of the other traits these families share, such as more open and frequent communication patters, the availability of the family as a support system, and numerous others. The meals themselves do not help the child, it’s the family system that is behind those meals that help

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