Statistics Around Dinner

Did you know that the statistics around dinner are all over the board? We bet they are ever changing as well with the pandemic that made its way into all of our lives back in 2020 and forced us to reprioritize our lives. It made me think about our family, our health, and so much more. Let’s talk about a few statistics we have around meal time and how we can use these to our advantage and what you may not know that you have at your disposal.

    • A systematic review of research finds more frequent family meals were associated with better dietary outcomes and family functioning outcomes (Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, May 2020). Here are a few of their findings: 
      • Regular family meals are linked to the kinds of outcomes that we all want for our children: higher grades and self-esteem, healthier eating habits and less risky behavior.
      • There’s clear evidence the structure of a meal can heavily influence a child’s long-term health. Kids and teens that share meals with their family three or more times per week are significantly less likely to be overweight, more likely to eat healthy foods and less likely to have eating disorders (Source: J. Berge, “The Protective Role of Family Meals for Youth Obesity: 10-year Longitudinal Association. 2014)
  • With each additional family meal shared each week, adolescents are less likely to show symptoms of depression, less likely to use or abuse drugs and less likely to engage in delinquent acts (Sources: Meier, A. & Musick, K. Variation in Associations Between Family Dinners and Adolescent Well-Being, Journal of Marriage and Family, 2014. Hammonds, A.J. & Fiese, B.A. Is Frequency of Shared Meals Related to the Nutritional Health of Children and Adolescents? Pediatrics 2011)
    • A 2014 study shows that children who grow up sharing family meals are more likely to exhibit prosocial behavior as adults, such as sharing, fairness and respect (Source: De Backer, Charlotte, JS, “Our” food versus “my” food. Investigating the relation between childhood shared food practices and adult prosocial behavior in Belgium, Appetite, 2014).
  • 84% of U.S. grocery shoppers believe home cooking is healthier (FMI U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends 2020)
    • Cooking at home is one of our favorite topics as retail dietitians. We also know that it might not be as exciting for you. With cooking “healthier” we want to challenge this thought and your skills to find what that looks like for you in your home. Most often, we like to see people start with a small goal and grow it into a long-term nutritious pattern where they are reaping the benefits (think the opposite of yo-yo dieting culture that once lived). Be it switching your grains to whole grains, switching up the oil you are using, adding more vegetables to your plate, adding more fruit to your day, or increasing your protein intake there are a plethora of places to start with a more nutritious mindset. 
  • 81% of parents buy items with minimal prep time (FMI Shopping for Health 2013. FMI U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends 2014)
    • With 63% of Americans deciding what to eat less than an hour before eating (Hartman Group, 2013) it is no wonder that items with a low prep/no prep time is a must for our shoppers. Singles and parents alike, choose convenience when time is limited, why do you think pizza night is so popular? Our solution to this is our ‘Dietitian Top Pick Ready Meals’ and some of our other ready meal selections as well to provide a convenient solution requiring minimal prep and cleanup time to help make family mealtime happen at home more often. For many of our time-starved shoppers, convenience is as important as nutrition. Some of our other favorite ‘Ready Meals’ are the already pulled or shredded rotisserie chicken and grilled chicken options. We lean on some of our salads as toppers to the traditional salad kits and so much more. If we can add an extra veggie to it, it’s a great way to bulk up the family meal in a pinch. 
  • Today 42% of men are cooking as compared to 29% in 1965 (Smith, L. (2013). Trends in US home food preparation and consumption: analysis of national nutrition surveys and time use studies from 1965-1966 to 2007-2008. Nutrition Journal, 12 (45)).
    • This doesn’t come as a surprise to us and we are so glad to see some data around it. Getting men (or dad) involved in the kitchen or around a meal time decision is critical for success. It may help the mental load between spouses feel more even. It may be nice to have your partner out of the kitchen for a few nights a week to show your appreciation. It may help men be invested in a shared health goal since we generally see at home meals as more nutritious choices.