U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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Child-Family Connectedness

There are a number of family activities that can promote family bonding and help children lay the groundwork for future health and well-being. Sharing meals is a bonding activity that can also encourage good nutritional habits. In 2007, 45.8 percent of children under 18 years of age ate a meal every day with all other members of their household. The rate of sharing meals decreased with age, from 57.7 percent of children from birth through age 5 to 32.9 percent of children 12–17 years of age. Sharing a meal every day was more common among Hispanic children (53.8 percent) than non-Hispanic White and non-Hispanic Black children (42.0 and 42.6 percent, respectively). Sharing of meals also varied by family income, with 58.3 percent of children living in households with incomes below 100 percent of the Federal poverty level ($20,650 for a family of four in 2007) sharing meals daily, while the same was true for only 38.8 percent of children with household incomes of 400 percent or more of the Federal poverty level (data not shown).

In 2007, 47.8 percent of children from birth to age five were read to every day by family members. This varied by household income, with 36.1 percent of children living in households with incomes below 100 percent of the Federal poverty level ($20,650 for a family of four in 2007) being read to every day, compared to 60.0 percent of children with household incomes of 400 percent or more of the Federal poverty level. Fewer than 10 percent of children with household incomes of 400 percent or more of the Federal poverty level were read to on two or fewer days in the past week, compared to nearly one-third of children with household incomes below 100 percent of the Federal poverty level.

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