You know that family meals are important, and the research backs up what you know. Adults who have regular meals eat better, are healthier and are slimmer.

Children and adolescents who have regular family meals do better nutritionally, socially, emotionally, academically and with respect to resistance to excess weight gain, drug abuse and early sexual behavior.

In fact, family meals have more to do with positive outcome in children than family income, whether the child has one or two parents living in the home, after-school activities, tutors, or church.

But today’s families are increasingly likely to eat on the run than have meals together, especially as children move through the teen years.

Here are some additional reasons it is important to hold the line with family meals:

*Meals support adults’ and children’s ability to learn to like and enjoy a variety of food.

*Going to the table hungry and eating until satisfied is key to adults’ eating the amount they need to maintain stable body weight and children’s eating the amount they need to grow appropriately.

*Meals give a reliable opportunity to do the work of the family: Checking in, giving emotional support, keeping up with what’s going on with family members.

*Meals allow food to keep its place as only one of life’s great pleasures. You pay attention and enjoy it when it is time to eat, forget about it between times.