St Helens families are most likely to eat in the living room rather than share a meal together at the table and could be missing out on health benefits as a consequence.
A survey by charity Heart Research UK and online furniture retailer MatalanDirect.com, found that 44 per cent of families questioned in the borough and region were most likely to eat their main meal in front of the telly rather than at the table.
In fact 72 per cent of families said a lack of space prohibited them from having a dining table, although 59 per cent of those questioned considered eating together at the table was valuable time spent together.
Nationally, only 36 per cent of households eat together at the table every day, while 15 per cent say they never eat a main meal together at a dining table in a typical week
The results have prompted Heart Research UK and MatalanDirect.com to launch a new campaign, Together at the Table, which encourages families to reap the heart health benefits of sitting down for meals.
Research suggests that children and adolescents who share family meals around a dining table at least three times a week are more likely to be in a normal weight range, have healthier dietary habits and eating patterns and are less likely to engage in disordered eating than those who don’t.
Experts say that all of these factors work towards ensuring a healthier heart.
Heart Research UK and MatalanDirect.com hope that the Together at their Table campaign, launched to tie in with February’s National Heart Month, will bring about behaviour change amongst households at mealtimes and encourage families to eat more meals together around a table for the good of their loved ones’ heart health.
As well as providing healthy meal plans and downloadable resources to make mealtimes fun, the campaign includes a competition for families to take on a three-week challenge of eating around the table and recording their experience - http://heartresearch.org.uk/heart/make-your-three-week-pledge
Heart Research UK lifestyle manager Barbara Dinsdale said “We know how difficult it can be for families to make that commitment to eat meals together, but evidence suggests that eating together could offer a simple solution to the nation’s obesity challenge as well as providing a range of wider benefits to family health and wellbeing.”
Chief operating officer at Skelmersdale-based MatalanDirect.com, Andrew Banks, said: “Our team is focused on helping modern families make the most of their homes, so when we heard about the Together at the Table campaign we were really eager to be involved.
“We’ll be helping to educate our customers with exclusive, healthy eating resources as well as supporting Heart Research UK with raising awareness of the importance and benefits of eating as a family.”
TV cook and Heart Research UK ambassador Sally Bee is also supporting the campaign, and regularly eats together with her family.
Mother of three Sally, who survived three heart attacks when in her 30s, appears on the Lorraine ITV programme, and said: “Mealtimes should not only be for food nourishment and body nourishment, it’s time for family nourishment too.
“Life is too short not to make the most of your time around the table with your most precious loved ones.”