This study presents theological and practical evidence regarding an important practice that fosters health and well-being in adolescent children – the family meal. We argue that helping families understand the importance of the family meal to social well-being of their family will help families and, particular to this study, adolescent girls to thrive. This paper was written from a Christian perspective.
The Family Meal and Adolescent Health
Eucharistic Eating, Family Meals and The Health of Adolescent Girls
What was studied?
In this study, the researchers investigated the role of church or religious group involvement as a potential determinant of health, as well as whether participation in family meals was a protective factor for adolescent girls’ health.
Who was studied?
This study looked at adolescent girls from 8 of 10 Canadian provinces and all three Canadian territories. A total of 12,576 girls were studied between the ages of 11 and 15.
What was found?
The results from this study suggest that Canadian adolescent girls who are involved with the church are less likely to participate in risk behaviours such as binge drinking, daily smoking, regular cannabis use or sexual intercourse. However, current church involvement did not relate to improved emotional health issues, such as body image or inner feelings. This study did find that there is a protective relationship between girls’ participation in family meals and their emotional well-being. Participation in family meals was also found to lower adolescent girls’ involvement in risk behaviours.
What should parents take out of this?
Both involvement in church and regular family meals are protective against risk behaviour such as binge drinking and daily smoking in adolescent girls. Family meals are also beneficial to the emotional health of adolescent Canadian girls.