Children would most like to have a meal with their parents and friends over the likes of Ariana Grande, Cristiano Ronaldo, and even Spiderman

A study of 1,000 6-16 year old's conducted by Mars Food found youngsters typically want to eat dinner with their parents at home, even if they were given the option of dining with celebs – real and fictional. Included in the top five people they’d like to have a meal with were siblings, pets, friends, grandparents, and cousins.* 

When kids had the option to dine with a famous face, the study found that the most sought-after names included Ariana Grande,  Cristiano Ronaldo and Spiderman.

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Shared mealtimes provide important opportunities for loved ones to bond, and almost half (41%) of children said their favourite activity during shared mealtimes was chatting with family – being preferred to watching TV (38%), YouTube (27%) or listening to music (25%) at dinner. Preparing dinner together is another way to bond, with the survey finding that homemade pizza is a favourite meal for kids to enjoy at home. 

Weeknight regulars

The research also found that 68% of children preferred hot meals over cold ones with healthy weeknight regulars like spaghetti bolognese, omelettes and fajitas also rating highly.  

A massive 61% of children were open to trying new foods, suggesting that shared mealtimes offer a perfect opportunity for friends and family to enjoy and bond over new tastes brought to the dinner table.

Sharing food results in a greater connection

According to a separate YouGov survey commissioned by Mars Food, 58% of people surveyed, said that sharing mealtimes resulted in a greater connection with others, and 48% confirmed that it helped with the family budget as it was cheaper to cook for multiple people at once. 

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The benefits of shared mealtimes are numerous and are associated with having a positive impact on physical and mental health, community and family cohesion, and social development. While work arguably still needs to be done to further understand and then raise awareness of the benefits of shared mealtimes, they can have a powerful impact, in both the short-term and long-term on the health and wellbeing of society. 

Dave Dusangh, Regional General Manager Mars Food Europe & Russia:  

“It’s heart-warming to that family and friends are who our children most want to have dinner with. This is especially uplifting to us, as Mars Food believe in the benefits of shared mealtimes. We hope to share these insights through this report, to enable a much-needed conversation on how we can remove some of the barriers that exist today. If we can enable more people to enjoy shared dinnertimes, we can help to improve the social, mental and physical health and wellbeing of the UK, one plate at a time.” 

Mars Food have commissioned this research as part of their campaign to make dinnertimes matter. The company is calling on others to join them in finding ways to make shared dinnertimes a weekly routine for everyone. Read the full report