Family mealtimes are in danger of dying out – as over half of British parents admit they do not eat with their children, according to a new study.  New research into British mealtime habits has revealed busy lives, coupled with children’s fussy eating habits has led to a “kid’s tea” culture, usually consisting of unhealthy convenience foods. According to the study by recipe kit delivery service HelloFresh – 73 per cent of those surveyed believe that sitting together at the dinner table is a thing of the past.  The report suggests that children and their parents are no longer sitting down to eat together with 53 percent of the nation feeding their children first with the average kid’s dinner taking place at 5.54pm – with parents then sitting down when the children are fed, out of the way or are in bed, at 6.54pm. Five in ten (53 percent) of the parents polled admitted it was easier to feed the children first, with 17 percent saying their children simply won’t eat “adult” meals, while a further 14 percent admitted their children’s table manners are so bad it is simply too stressful. What’s more, over half (58 percent) of those polled said that their children’s fussy eating causes arguments in the house, with a further 53 percent claiming they end up feeding their children convenience foods for an easier life. A further 36 percent of mums and dads complained that coming up with recipes the whole family will like puts them off family mealtimes – with a staggering 73 percent insisting that they no longer sit together around the table at mealtimes. Worryingly, more than one in ten (15 percent) said their children will not stay seated at the table – with 32 percent of children being allowed to eat dinner in front of the TV, 28 percent eat in front of their laptops/tablets and a further 4 percent of youngsters eat dinner in their bedrooms. A spokesman from HelloFresh, who commissioned the report as part of their new campaign to encourage all households to eat together as much as they can for 30 days, said “This news make us really sad. We thought it might be high, but the fact that 73% of the population thinks family dinner time is a thing of the past is actually quite worrying.  At HelloFresh we live and breathe dinner time and we understand the physical and emotional benefits of sitting around a table, discussing the day; food can bring people, friends and families together.  We know that life can get in the way sometimes, so this is why we are launching the #DinnerTimeChallenge – to try and get people to commit to eat together as much as they can for 30 days and see the benefits.” Patrick Drake, head chef and co-founder, HelloFresh. Psychologist Professor Jane Ogden from the University of Surrey who was involved in the research explains that mealtimes help you to feel more connected to yourself and others, commenting: “eating at a table gives you time out of a busy day, it can be a time of self-caring and a way to look after yourself to boost mood and happiness. Food can bring the family together. Dinnertime is a chance for everyone to talk about their day, for parents it also gives them time to listen to any problems or achievements the child may have had.”

Dinner Time Challenge spokesperson Cherry Healy said:

Life moves so fast – it’s easy to miss those moments for quality family time. As a family we really try to make the effort to sit down together as much as we can, so we can interact and connect – it’s where the kids are at their most chatty and it helps us to stay bonded. That’s why I’m so happy to support HelloFresh’s#DinnerTimeChallenge as it’s something we really value.  I’m not saying we are the Von Trapp family! There are mealtimes that go well, when we have a laugh and my kids eat everything on their plates and on other days it can go pear-shaped; think more pea-throwing, whining, iPad under-the-table escapades. But mostly the benefits far outweigh the effort. We are healthier, closer and ultimately happier and its down to the simple act of sharing a cottage pie and talking to each other!

The HelloFresh #DinnerTimeChallenge

HelloFresh is encouraging the nation to take part in the #DinnerTimeChallenge and commit to spending 30 days eating dinner with their family or household as much as they can. They want the nation to get on board and see first-hand how the simple change to daily routines of having dinner together can have huge physical and emotional benefits.