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Family Meals May Beat Obesity

by Sandy Todd Webster on Apr 16, 2014

Food for Thought

Family meals and their rituals might be an underappreciated battleground for fighting obesity, say Cornell professor Brian Wansink, PhD, and coauthor Ellen Van Kleef, assistant professor at Wageningen University, The Netherlands. Their study appeared online in Obesity on October 1, 2013.

The research showed that families who eat together without the television on and stay seated until everyone is finished have children with lower weights and body mass indexes. Strong, positive socialization skills during dinner possibly supplant the need to overeat, the researchers explained. Mothers and fathers who talk meaningfully with children, especially young boys, about their day during dinner also have lower BMIs.

“The ritual of where one eats and how long one eats seems to be the largest driver,” said Wansink, professor in Cornell’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab. But families who eat while watching television can turn chubby, the researchers noted. “In fact, eating anywhere other than the kitchen or dining room was related to higher BMIs in both parents and in children,” said Wansink, in a Cornell press release.

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About the Author

Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster IDEA Author/Presenter

Sandy Todd Webster is Editor in Chief of IDEA's publications, including the award-winning IDEA FITNESS JOURNAL and IDEA FOOD & NUTRITION TIPS, the industry's leading resources for fitness, wellness and nutrition professionals worldwide. Sandy joined IDEA in 2001 as executive editor of IDEA PERSONAL TRAINER and IDEA FITNESS MANAGER magazines and was promoted to lead the editorial team in 2003. More than 20 years in magazine publishing, marketing communications and creative services have shaped her straightforward approach to multi-channel communication. Early experience in Los Angeles as a sports writer/reporter, and then enriching years as a managing editor in allied health care publishing have pulled her across a spectrum of stimulating subject matter. Fitness, health and nutrition reside at the perfect center of this content continuum, she feels. A Chicago native, Sandy grew up fully engaged in various competitive sports. Her drive and dedication as an athlete translate to a disciplined work ethic and unwavering approach to challenge in her career. Shortly after graduating journalism school from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, she was recruited to L.A. for her first post in magazine publishing. After two decades of working on magazines--and now in the throes of applying the unbelieveable multi-media content delivery options available in the magazine 2.0 world--she is still "completely in love" with the creative process it takes to deliver meaningful, inspirational content to end users. She is an accomplished home cook and gardner who would love to combine those skills and passions with her health and fitness background to continue educating readers about a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle.