Teens whose families eat dinner together are more likely to make healthy food choices, even when kids and parents have issues with communicating and connecting emotionally, a new study finds.

More frequent family dinners were associated with more healthful eating among teens and young adults, even when families were not especially close and had trouble managing daily routines, researchers report in JAMA Network Open.

“The big thing is that over and beyond family functioning, family meals still matter when you’re thinking about a dietary intake for adolescents,” said the study’s lead author Kathryn Walton, who was a doctoral student at the University of Guelph, Canada, when she did the research.

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