Baton Rouge --- Eating dinner as a family does more than provide nutrients and give everyone a chance to tell about the day --- studies show it also decreases the risk of teen substance abuse. Teenagers who regularly eat dinner with their families are 31 percent less likely than the average teenager to drink, smoke or use illegal drugs. Adversely, teens who almost never eat dinner with their families are 72 percent more likely than the average teenager to develop substance abuse problems.
Region 1 (New Orleans)
Region 2 (Baton Rouge):
Region 3 (Houma/Thibodaux)
Region 4 (Lafayette)
Region 6 (Alexandria)
Region 7 (Shreveport)
Region 8 (Monroe)
Region 9 (Covington)
Region 10 (Jefferson Parish)
To encourage more families to eat dinner together, Gov. Mike Foster has proclaimed Monday, Sept. 22 to be Family Day for Louisiana. This day is meant to recognize the importance of having meals as a family and to celebrate the positive effects of family togetherness on decreasing substance abuse.
Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary David W. Hood said the LDH Office for Addictive Disorders will join Gov. Foster in promoting that day as a way to bring families together and improve parents’ communication skills with their children.
“The simple act of eating dinner together may not seem important enough to help in the fight against substance abuse, but numerous studies have documented the important link between having meals each night as a family and lowering a teen’s risk,” Hood said. “I hope parents will use Family Day to gain a greater awareness of why it is necessary to have this time together consistently.”
OAD Assistant Secretary Mike Duffy added that the benefits of having dinner together lower the risk for more than substance abuse.
“Family mealtime also makes teenagers less likely to become sexually active at a young age, less likely to get into fights or other problems that cause suspension from school and less likely to become suicidal,” Duffy said. “Additionally, those teenagers who do spend time with their families at dinner on a regular basis have been shown to perform better in school and develop healthier long-term eating habits.”
For more information on how you can participate in Family Day activities in your area, please contact one of the OAD coordinators listed above. For more information about the Office for Addictive Disorders programs, please go tohttp://www.dhh.state.la.us/OADA/index.htm.