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Calm Family Meals Linked to Normal Weight

Research has linked family meals with a lower risk of childhood obesity. A new study suggests that a nice, calm atmosphere at mealtime also may help. The study included 120 families. Researchers asked them to record a week of family meals on an iPad. Families with normal-weight children tended to have pleasant dinner conversations. They seemed to enjoy each other's company. Parents offered encouragement. Parents of overweight children were more likely to lecture. Discipline tended to be inconsistent. Meals were a bit shorter -- about 14 minutes, compared with 18 minutes for families with normal-weight children. For both groups of families, some type of screen (phone, TV etc.) was in use for about 61% of meals. Families with an overweight child ate about 55% of meals in the kitchen or dining room. They ate about 30% in the family room and 15% in other rooms.

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