Study Finds that Eating Dinner as a Family Makes 91% of Families Less Stressed

Everyone knows your family can be a pain in the neck sometimes, but regular family dinners can be the key to reduced stress levels in the household.

This was found in a survey by the American Heart Association (AHA), who research chronic stress which can increase rates for all manner of non-communicable heart diseases.

Of the 1,000 U.S. adults nationwide surveyed in September 2022 by Wakefield Research on behalf of the AHA, 91% of respondents said their family was less stressed when they share meals together.

84% say they wish they could share a meal more often with loved ones.

“Sharing meals with others is a great way to reduces stress, boost self-esteem and improve social connection, particularly for kids,” said Erin Michos, M.D, M.H.S, and American Heart Association volunteer from Johns Hopkins.

“Chronic, constant stress can also increase your lifetime risk of heart disease and stroke, so it is important for people to find ways to reduce and manage stress as much as possible, as soon as possible.”

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Connecting with friends, family, coworkers and neighbors benefits people beyond stress relief. In fact, the AHA survey found 67% of people say sharing a meal reminds them of the importance of connecting with other people, and 54% say it reminds them to slow down and take a break.

The survey also identified the majority (65%) of adults say they are at least somewhat stressed and more than a quarter (27%) are extremely or very stressed.

Nearly 7 in 10 of survey respondents who are employed full or part-time said they would feel less stressed at work if they had more time to take a break and share a meal with a co-worker.

Those surveyed say they are more likely (59%) to make healthier food choices when eating with other people but have difficulty aligning schedules with their friends or family to do so, according to the survey. Overall, respondents reported eating alone about half of the time.

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“We know it’s not always as easy as it sounds to get people together at mealtime. Like other healthy habits, give yourself permission to start small and build from there,” Michos said.

“Set a goal to gather friends, family or coworkers for one more meal together each week. If you can’t get together in person, think about how you can share a meal together over the phone or a computer.”

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