Children who eat regular meals with their family are more likely to eat the recommended amount of fruit, according to a new study.
The study found that family meals encourage kids to consume more fruits and vegetables. Previous studies too have shown that children who eat with family are more likely to be healthier and slimmer.
The study included 2,000 primary school children, attending 52 different schools across London. Researchers assessed their diets using Child and Diet Evaluation Tool (CADET) questionnaire. The questionnaire was filled by parents and used to calculate nutrition intake.
Parents of the children were also asked to maintain a food diary, in which they wrote down the number of meals that they ate together during the day.
Study analysis showed that most children ate 293 grams or 10.3 ounces of fruits, equivalent to 3.7 portions a day. However, children who ate meals with their family were more likely to eat more fruit.
The results also showed that parents' eating habits affected children's fruit intake. For example, children were more likely to have a higher intake of fruits when their parents cut up their fruits and vegetables. Also, children whose parents consumed more fruits and vegetables had higher odds of consuming more fruit.
"The results from this study illustrate a positive health message for parents, which could improve their own dietary habits and their children's. The key message is for families to eat fruit and vegetables together at a mealtime," write the authors.
The study is published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
Previous research conducted in the U.S. had found that few adults and children consume the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables. Eating fruits and vegetables reduces risk of several health complications.