Science Tells You Why Family Dining Is Important

According to science, family dining has many benefits for everyone, but especially for kids. Learn what they are and get ready to adopt this habit.
Science Tells You Why Family Dining Is Important
Mara Amor López

Written and verified by the psychologist Mara Amor López.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Science shows that family dining has many benefits for everyone. When children eat together, they socialize and learn better. These family meals are good for the body, mind, and spirit. For this reason, we should give more importance to dinner time to share a moment with the family.

The stress of day-to-day life causes us to live at an accelerated pace and we don’t dedicate enough time to sharing some quiet time with our people. Therefore, dinner time should be spent with a nice conversation without the presence of screens.

We don’t need to prepare a super elaborate meal or put together a majestic plan. All we need is to have dinner together in the company in order to enjoy each other. There’s scientific evidence to support that doing this has numerous benefits for everyone. We’ll tell you why family dining is so important in the following article.

The benefits of family dining regarding children’s performance

Research shows that talking over dinner as a family increases young children’s vocabulary even more than reading aloud.

In this study, it was determined that children who eat dinner with their parents learn about 1,000 different words, while reading only adds 143. This considerable increase in vocabulary helps them to read earlier and even with greater ease.

But not only younger children benefit from family dining, but also school-age children. Dining as a family is a motivator for academic achievement and works better than doing homework, time at school, or extracurricular activities.

With regard to adolescents, family dinners also increase their academic performance. Research has shown that young people who dine with their family five to seven times a week are twice as likely to get better grades, compared to those who do so only a couple of times.

The benefits regarding eating habits

Family dining also favors the consumption of fruits, vegetables, and better nutrients. Likewise, it reduces the consumption of carbonated drinks or fried foods. This not only benefits children today but also in their adult life.

Adolescents who eat dinner as a family frequently have a lower rate of obesity in the future and are able to adopt much healthier eating habits.

Now, it’s not only important to eat healthily but also to have a pleasant atmosphere during dinner. For this reason, parents must be close, warm, loving, less restrictive, and less controlling in order to instill in their children a good diet.

Another aspect to keep in mind is that dining with the television on hinders the above. Therefore, it’s best to dine with the family without television or screens if we want to take advantage of its benefits. In addition, the habit of eating with screens favors the putting on of excess weight.

Family dining improves the behaviors of children and adolescents

Other studies have shown that eating dinner with the family every day reduces high-risk behaviors in teens. For example, school problems, some violent behaviors, the use of alcohol, drugs, or tobacco, and the early initiation of sexual relations.

These dinners also lower the levels of suicidal thoughts and depression. In addition, it was shown that children and adolescents who suffer from cyberbullying recover faster if they maintain this shared habit than if they don’t.

Finally, dining with the family is associated with an increase in good behaviors in children, which provide them with a much more positive mood.

A mother with her arms around her teenage son.

Why is dining as a family so important?

Today, each and every member of the family has different obligations and routines that prevent them from being together all the time. Therefore, it’s very important to prioritize dinner time to share, be able to talk, and know how each one’s day has gone.

Throughout this article, we’ve seen why family dining is so important, as children who have this habit are less stressed and relate better with themselves and with others.

Now, yes, the true power of dining with the family is in the quality and the environment around it. If family members yell at each other, are silent all the time, or are engaged in scolding children, they won’t achieve these benefits.

Dinner is an opportunity that you have every day to share a delicious meal and the individual experiences of the cohabitants. In this way, the bond between the family becomes much stronger, even when it’s not so close.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Villares, J. M., & Segovia, M. G. (2006). La comida en familia: algo más que comer juntos. Acta Pediatr Esp, 64(11), 554-558.
  • Prats-Barreda, H. (2014). Educar durante la cena (Bachelor’s thesis).
  • de Miguel, B. B., & Vives, C. C. Comer en familia: una costumbre saludable y gratificante.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.