(NaturalNews) Studies have shown that when children eat meals with other family members, especially healthy meals, they're less likely to become involved in disordered eating, drug abuse or practice unsafe sex. (1)
Considering that up to 15 percent of youth in the United States suffer from depression and approximately 80 percent of 10-year-old girls have been on a diet, the findings offer hope for the future of children. (1,2)
One study from the University of Illinois found that, when a child ate meals with their family, they were 24 percent more likely to eat healthier foods and 35 percent less likely to engage in disordered eating. (1)
According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), about 10 million men and 20 million women in the United States have a clinically significant eating disorder. (2) Many of them range from bulimia and anorexia to ones not yet clinically classified, but which still involve extremely unhealthy behaviors.
Food quality just as important for children as eating together as a family
Experts suggest that, when eating together, where the focus is not on watching television or eating mindlessly alone, children are more apt to engage in conversation that reduces states of depression that are often linked to drug use and other unhealthy actions.
They also note that quality of food in addition to quality of conversation is important. Providing children with healthy foods is essential.
Dr. Felice Jacka of Deaken University led one of the studies that showed a link between higher-quality food and mental health improvements. She said, "In the U.S., as in the rest of the world, diet quality appears to be on the decline largely due to the availability of highly processed, high-fat, refined sugar foods." (1)
Consumption of high-fat, sugary foods can, among other things, lead to obesity, which has been associated with premature puberty in girls who may reach that state as young as 10.5 years of age. (3) Girls who reach puberty so young are more likely to develop uterine and breast cancer later in life as well as face unwanted sexual advances, since they are often mistaken as older. (3)
Healthy food tips
Eating healthy foods, ideally with family members, can therefore help keep the childhood obesity epidemic at bay and, in turn, pave the way for the youth of America to live long, healthy lives.
Healthy foods include fresh, whole and organic nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits.
When making recipes for children, it's also helpful to be creative, trying meals that involve healthy food substitutes, such as swapping out traditional items when making a muffin and using zucchini as a main ingredient. Experts at the family-oriented publication Parents suggest this idea, as well as incorporating plenty of healthy frozen treats, fruits and vegetables like sweet potato "chips" in a child's diet. (4)
About the author: Raw Michelle is a natural health blogger and researcher, sharing her passions with others, using the Internet as her medium. She discusses topics in a straight forward way in hopes to help people from all walks of life achieve optimal health and well-being. She has authored and published hundreds of articles on topics such as the raw food diet and green living in general. >>> Click here to see more by Michelle