Forget fad diets and low-fat meals. A new study has found the simplest of food strategies – eating at home – may be the best way to prevent childhood obesity.
University of Granada researchers who tracked the dining habits of 718 Spanish school children -- aged 9-17 years – found kids who have lunch at home with their mothers eat healthier meals and are at a lower risk of suffering obesity than children whose meals are prepared out of the home.
The study, published in the journal Nutrición Hospitalaria, identified a “significant direct relationship” between a child’s nutritional status and the person who prepares his or her meals.
In general, researchers wrote: “The mother is the family member who best knows the nutritional needs of children and has the strongest nutritional knowledge for the preparation of children’s meals.”
Researchers tracked children from 13 public and private schools located in the province of Granada, Spain. They assessed children’s weight, size and body mass index (BMI) by age and sex. They also asked the children about their family environments, dining habits, specific foods they ate and exercise levels.
In addition to finding a connection between home-prepared meals and health, researchers said children who tended to be sedentary – and spent more time watching TV, playing video games and Internet surfing -- had more problems with weight than their more active peers.