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"Kids who dine with the folks are healthier, happier, and better students, which is why a dying tradition is coming back." That's what an in-depth study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University concluded after nearly a decade of research.

Researchers identified several important patterns. For example, 55 percent of twelve-year-olds say they have dinner with a parent every night, compared with only 26 percent of seventeen-year-olds. Along ethnic lines, 54 percent of Hispanic teens say they eat with a parent most nights, compared with 40 percent of black teens and 39 percent of white teens.

Children who eat meals most often with their parents are 40 percent more likely to say they get mainly As and Bs in school than kids who have two or fewer family dinners a week. Children who participate in family meals fewer than three times a week are more than twice as likely to say there is a great deal of tension among family members and much less likely to think their parents are proud of them.

Finally, among those who eat together three or fewer times a week, 45 percent say the TV is on during meals (as opposed to 37 percent of all households), and nearly one-third say there isn't much conversation.

[Nancy Gibbs, "The Magic of the Family Meal," Time (June 12, 2006). Larson, C. B., & Ten Elshof, P. (2008). 1001 illustrations that connect (287). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.]House.]

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