Helping children achieve healthy lifestyles

Helping children achieve healthy lifestyles

Oct 24
Barbara Fiese, Director of the Family Resiliency Center

One of my research interests is family mealtimes and how important they are to children’s health and well being. After conducting many research studies, my students and I have found that children who eat five or more meals with their family each week are 25 percent less likely to develop nutritional health issues, and will consume more fruits and vegetables and less junk food. Children who eat with their families even just three times per week are less likely to have eating disorders or be overweight. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends regular family meals as a way to protect against childhood obesity.

While the benefits of family mealtimes are fairly well understood, there’s a lack of research on how children are fed in preschool and day care centers, where more than 12 million young children eat up to five meals and snacks each day. University of Illinois Human & Community Development Professor Brent McBride and his graduate student Dipti Dev recently published a groundbreaking study that indicated the way care givers feed these children is just as important as what they feed them, particularly as it helps the children develop skills they’ll need to maintain a healthy weight as they grow up.

You can read more about Dr. McBride’s work here.

This study exemplifies the work occurring at the Family Resiliency Center, where our transdisciplinary team of researchers advance knowledge and practices that strengthen families' abilities to meet life's challenges and thrive.