Eating Isn't Only Healthy Benefit of Family Dinner

Structured, deep interaction at meals yields adjusted kids
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 7, 2008 1:18 PM CST

(Newser) – Studies in the 1990s showed that regular family dinners made kids less likely to do drugs, smoke or have psychological problems, but a closer look now finds that it's what goes on during those meals—strong verbal interaction, parents showing interest in their children—that really counts in the youngsters' health and development, NPR reports.

The work of Vanderbilt University researcher David Dickinson spawned headlines that equated meals together with literacy skills, but he explains that it was in fact the stimulating conversations during meals with families already heavily engaged with reading that cemented the kids’ scholastic advantages. "Those interactions were very powerful," Dickinson said.