(credit: John Moore/Getty Images)

(credit: John Moore/Getty Images)

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Researchers have been looking into the benefits of families eating meals together and the results of a recent study say contributing less than five minutes more a day can improve a child’s health.

The findings published in the December 2012 issue of Economics and Human Biology suggest that sharing a meal can result in a number of health benefits. One is that eating healthy meals adds four minutes to family time.

“The children of healthy weight their families tended to spend close to 20 minutes during their meals, where as children with unhealthy weight, that were overweight, they tended to spend on average about 16 minutes during their meals,” explained Family Resiliency Center director Barbara Fiese.

Researchers observed 200 families at mealtimes and made note of things like how mealtime was scheduled, how important the event was and how much interaction took place during the meals.

Experts believe the framework of the sit down meal is also positive for the diet. Fiese said, “It may be a way in which families are sort of keeping track of sort of the emotional and mindless eating that we know is associated with poor nutrition.”

Fiese said just physically eating a meal at the same time isn’t really enough; the substantive impact comes from the positive communications that occur during the meal.

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