I’m not sure of the true origins of this poster, but from what I could find, it’s either from the Lard Council or Viz, a British Comedy Magazine. Whether it’s real or a spoof, it’s a depiction of that stereotypical 1950’s family; breadwinning father, stay-at-home mother, home in the suburbs. The 1950’s family demographic set the standard for the ‘ideal’ family, although in 2014 families are so much more diverse than this.
In the 1950’s kitchen, mother probably still made all the meals at home and maybe there was a family garden in the backyard and of course, they would sit down together and eat their dinner. While some people might think the family meal is dying away, according to researchers at North Dakota State University, that does not seem to be true. In studies there by Associate Professor Sean Brotherson, 79% of teens say they very much enjoy the family meal and 98% of parents say that eating at least 1 meal a day together is very important.
Health benefits include: an opportunity for parents to model healthy eating, improved nutrition (regular family meals are associated with higher fruit and vegetable intake, more grains and other healthy choices), and a reduced risk of childhood obesity.
From a social science perspective, the conversations and time spent together that accompany the family meal strengthens the family connection. If you live alone, remember that ‘family’ can include friends and neighbours too!
I’d like to suggest that the caption for that poster “they’re happy because they eat lard” is what researchers would call a “confounder”. That is, it’s not the lard that is making that family happy; it’s the fact that they are eating their meals together.
May is Family Wellness Month and to honour this event, I want to reinforce that your efforts to enjoy a family meal will be rewarded. When you sit down to your family meal, know that you are doing something great for your family’s health.
Happy Family Wellness Month!
References: J Acad Nutr Diet. 2013 Dec;113(12):1601-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2013.08.011. Epub 2013 Oct 15. Eating breakfast and dinner together as a family: associations with sociodemographic characteristics and implications for diet quality and weight status. Larson N, MacLehose R, Fulkerson JA, Berge JM, Story M, Neumark-Sztainer D J Am Diet Assoc. 2003 Mar;103(3):317-22. Family meal patterns: associations with sociodemographic characteristics and improved dietary intake among adolescents. Neumark-Sztainer D1, Hannan PJ, Story M, Croll J, Perry C. http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/eatsmart/eat-smart.-play-hard.-magazines-1/2009-eat-smart-play-hard-magazine/test-item