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Meals with Others Promote Young Adults' Healthy Eating

Less junk food, more fruit and vegetables when meals are shared

THURSDAY, Jan. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Young adults who take the time to sit down and share a meal with others rather than eating on the run are more likely to have a healthy diet, according to research published in the January issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Nicole I. Larson, Ph.D., of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and colleagues conducted a postal survey of 1,687 young adults with a mean age of 20.5 years, of whom 44 percent were male, to ascertain the relationship between food frequency and eating behaviors.

Despite the fact that most respondents said they enjoyed eating with others, 35 percent of males and 42 percent of females said they did not have enough time to sit down for meals. When respondents ate on the run they were more likely to have higher intakes of sodas, fast food and fatty foods, while eating dinner together with other people was associated with higher intake of fruit and vegetables, including dark-green and orange vegetables, the researchers found.

"Food and nutrition professionals should give consideration to the busy lifestyles of young adults when providing dietary recommendations," the authors write. "Postsecondary institutions and businesses employing young adults should be encouraged to support good nutrition by providing scheduled time and access to facilities for meals, along with healthful meal and snack options."

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