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In minutes a day, low-income families can improve their kids' health
Date:1/17/2013

ial meaning for them were less likely to have an obese child. And families who talked more together and interacted more positively during the meal were more likely to have healthy-weight children.

Teaching low-income families how to make the most of family mealtimes is a workable intervention, Fiese noted.

"This is something we can target and teach. It's much more difficult to change such factors as marital status, maternal education, or neighborhood poverty."

But it may not be enough to advise families that eating together four or more times weekly is beneficial if they don't have the time, resources, or ability to communicate positively with each other, she added.

Many low-income parents are pressured for time, meaning that planning ahead, budgeting, shopping, preparing a healthy meal, and then sitting down to enjoy it with their children is challenging, she said.

She recommends developing and delivering programming that includes information on the importance of shared family mealtimes, time management, stress management, parenting skills, cooking lessons, and shopping strategies.

If parents are taught to value family mealtimes and learn to make them a priority, they can protect their children from the harmful effects of living in an environment with fewer resources, she said.

"It's also important to recognize the increasing diversity of families and their sometimes complex living arrangements that may challenge their abilities to plan ahead and arrange a single time to communicate with each other," she added.


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Contact: Phyllis Picklesimer
p-pickle@illinois.edu
217-244-2827
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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