When it comes to eating, the United States has a lesson to learn from France. I’m not talking about the kind of elaborate dinners Americans often associate with the French. Many of the meals the French eat are quick and simple. The difference is that the French eat together. They have managed to preserve a tradition that is good for everyone’s health – the family meal.
According to the French government’s Committee for Health Education, 75 percent of the French eat dinner together as a family and many French schoolchildren still go home for lunch.
These figures haven’t changed much in decades. In the United States, on the other hand, national studies show that on average, only one family in three sits down for dinner together on a daily basis. Over the last two decades, there has been a steady decline in the number of American families that eat together regularly. It looks like the family meal is disappearing.
It has been decades since American students went home for lunch. Karen Evans Stout, a researcher at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, compared lunch practices at hundreds of schools in the United States, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France and other countries. She found striking differences between Americans’ lunch habits and those of other cultures.0