(and getting a clue)
Family dinners build relationships, and help kids do better in school.
Eating together was a small act, and it required very little of us—45 minutes away from our usual, quotidian distractions—and yet it was invariably one of the happiest parts of my day
Using data from nearly three-quarters of the world’s countries, a new analysis from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that students who do not regularly eat with their parents are significantly more likely to be truant at school. The average truancy rate in the two weeks before the International Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), a test administered to 15-year-olds by the OECD and used in the analysis as a measure for absenteeism, was about 15 percent throughout the world on average, but it was nearly 30 percent when pupils reported they didn’t often share meals with their families.
Children who do not eat dinner with their parents at least twice a week also were 40 percent more likely to be overweight compared to those who do, as outlined in a research presentation given at the European Congress on Obesity in Bulgaria this May. On the contrary, children who do eat dinner with their parents five or more days a week have less trouble with drugs and alcohol, eat healthier, show better academic performance, and report being closer with their parents than children who eat dinner with their parents less often, according to a study conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.
In her book Eating Together, Alice Julier argues that dining together can radically shift people’s perspectives: It reduces people’s perceptions of inequality, and diners tend to view those of different races, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds as more equal than they would in other social scenarios..
How then do we eat better, not just from a nutritional perspective, but from a psychological one as well?
“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art,” said the 17th-century writer François de La Rochefoucauld. What “intelligence” means in the context of eating is debatable. There are those who obsess over their food—where it is sourced, if it is organic, the nebulous desire for culinary “originality”—who are known in the U.S. as “foodies” and in France as generation Le Fooding, both of which are the hipsters of cuisine, moneyed and sometimes picky. But this doesn’t seem quite like “intelligence” as de La Rochefoucauld meant it.
Perhaps to “eat intelligently,” one needs only to eat together. Although it would be nice to eat healthily as well, even take-out makes for a decent enough meal, psychologically speaking, so long as your family, roommates, or friends are present.
It’s incredible what we’re willing to make time for if we’re motivated. (Although we often end up just a bit too squeezed to make it to the gym in the morning, we can still find time to go to the movies after work.) Perhaps seeing eating together not as another appointment on a busy schedule, but rather as an opportunity to de-stress, a chance to catch up with those whom we love then, could help our children do better in school, get in better shape, and be less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. Eating together also led children to report better relationships with their parents and surely relationships between adults can similarly benefit.
CODY C. DELISTRATY is a writer and historian based in Paris. He has worked for the Council on Foreign Relations, UNESCO, and NBC News. (July 2014)
Royal Australasian College of Physicians
Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
Australasian College for Emergency Medicine
Rural Doctors Association of Australia
Australian Medical Association
Australian Nursing Midwifery Association
National Australian Pharmacy Students’ Association
Pharmaceutical Society of Australia
Forensic and Clinical Toxicology Association
Public Health Association of Australia
Dear Board Chair/President,
I am writing as the Secretary for Drug Free Australia.
Drug Free Australia notes that your organisation has put its name behind Harm Reduction Australia’s and its auspiced entity Pill Testing Australia’s campaign for pill testing at festivals and clubs.
We are writing to your Board or management committee because we have spent considerable time examining the existing science behind party pill deaths in Australia and believe there is nothing in the science that lends support to pill testing. To that end we wish to ask questions of your Board or Management Committee regarding your support for pill testing.
Drug Free Australia has shared the contents of this letter with more than 900 State, Territory and Federal Parliamentarians across Australia and we believe that they will be keen to hear your organisation’s answers to these questions. We believe it would not be unreasonable for Australians to think that if nothing is heard within a three month period that your organisation has been unable to answer these questions.
Gary Christians, SECRETARY
Drug Free Australia
*We note that there were only two possible deaths from ecstasy cut with another drug during this period, one in 2007 involving PMA and another on the Gold Coast in 2016 involving NBOMe. It appears media were guessing at the drugs causing death in both cases.
The peer-reviewed journal JAMA Network Open asked Robert L. DuPont, MD and Caroline DuPont, MD, President and Vice President, respectively, of IBH, to respond to a new research study by Bertha K. Madras, et al., "Associations of parental marijuana use with offspring marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol use and opioid misuse."In their commentary, Drs. DuPont note that this study showed that when parents used marijuana, their children had increased risk of using marijuana too. "This underscores the need for engagement by both parents and health care professionals in youth substance use prevention and parental substance use disorder treatment." Drs. DuPont then connect the findings to IBH's own youth prevention work:The association of parent use of marijuana with offspring use of marijuana and tobacco complements a recent finding suggesting that there is a common liability for substance use among adolescents. Among young people aged 12 to 17 years, the use of one substance is positively associated with the use of others, and non-use of any one substance is positively associated with non-use of others. There is also evidence that there is a large and steadily increasing number of American youth who do not use any substances, including alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana. More than half (52%) of high school seniors have not used any substance in the past month and more than one-quarter (26%) have not used any substance in their lifetime, up from lows in 1982 of 16% and 3%, respectively. Together, these facts can empower parents when they are educated about their own substance use choices affecting the risks of their children using substances. They can also inform health care professionals that no use of alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, or other drugs is not only the health standard for youth but that non-use by young patients is common and achievable. This commentary extends the work of IBH to set a new health standard for youth prevention of One Choice: no use of any alcohol, nicotine, marijuana or other drugs by youth under age 21. Drs. DuPont and the IBH team thank Madras, et al. for their important contribution in JAMA Network Open and thank the journal for the opportunity to share their insights on its implications for prevention and treatment.
Is, simply, good. Very good, in fact. It is a deep-dive through the superficial fun of a party drug that 1 million Britons take into the brutality beneath. It manages to be compelling, honest and unpreachy, and treats its subject with robust respect. They visit the slums and the tenants they control, meet the children who have an 80% chance of being recruited into the industry, and go out on patrol with the navy to understand the virtual impossibility of breaking the stranglehold of the cartels…PARTY ON!