The percentage of homeowners in England who frequently eat dinner alone (60 percent) is more than three times greater than the 18 percent of Brits who regularly gather around the dinner table with their families, according to the new report “Britain at Home” commissioned by Lloyds Bank of London.
“The breakdown of families sitting around the dining room table has been blamed on busy lifestyles and increasing dependence on technology causing more of us to eat in front of TV and computer screens,” Lloyds indicated. “The report showed 59 percent of homeowners said they ate at a different time (from) their families, while eating dinner alone was common for 60 percent of those polled.”
The new study didn’t convey bad news for all British families, however: “For (18 percent) though, the tradition of family meals isn’t over completely, as they said the dining room was the place where the family spent most time together.”
On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, the Wall Street Journal reported two weeks ago that the average amount of time American families spend eating dinner together is in decline.
“Families are definitely eating faster,” Diana Kapp wrote for the Journal on Sept. 17. “According to a 2011 survey of 1,000 teens by the National Center for Substance Abuse at Columbia University, 32 percent of families spend 20 minutes or less eating dinner. That compares with 26 percent eating dinner at this pace in 2009, the prior survey year.”
Although the Lloyds Bank findings focused on the paucity of how often families congregate around the dinner table, and the Wall Street Journal honed in on the lessened length of family dinners, in both cases the net result is essentially the same: Families are spending less time eating dinner together.
And research indicates that’s not a good thing.
“Family dinnertime has been proven time and again to be one of the most beneficial activities parents can do with their children,” Sarah Petersen recently wrote for the Deseret News. “… It has become well known in the medical world that not only do family dinners provide children with a more nutritional meal, but studies have shown that eating dinner together also promotes better relationships between parents and children.”