Drawing comparisons to how distracted driving can be hazardous to safety, researchers at the University of Illinois found that “distracted dining” could potentially lead to health risks including obesity and/or overconsumption of unhealthy foods. The small study involved 60 families during a meal that took place at a research home. Half of the families were subjected to a distraction (a loud vacuuming session that lasted for 15 minutes in an adjacent room), while the other families ate without this distraction. The distraction had more of an effect on the parents than the kids, with those parents in the distraction group eating more cookies than those in the quiet group as well as getting up and down more from the table and paying less attention to their children’s concerns during mealtime conversation. While the results of the study focused more on the differences in parent behaviors, the impact of having distracted adults could have a ripple effect on the family, resulting in a lack of mindfulness about eating, inattention to hunger and fullness cues, a lack of modeling of good mealtime behaviors by parents, and overconsumption of unhealthy foods. Being present — both physically and mentally — at the table allows parents to monitor whether a child is simply eating a plateful of French fries for dinner and to consider perhaps why a terrible day at school is causing him to reach for those addictive munchies in the first place. Apparently, just showing up for family dinner isn’t enough/ The conversations, behaviors, and attention that family members give each other is a key component to promoting these beneficial bonds, so stash your phone and limit distractions whenever possible.

via Parents and Science Daily

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