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Are Americans Still Serving Up Family Dinners?

NEW YORK, Nov. 13, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- With America's most visible family meal – Thanksgiving – just around the corner, the tradition of the family dinner appears alive and well – though some report their household isn't making time for it as often as they recall from their childhood.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100517/NY06256LOGO )

Among Americans who live with at least one family member (including a spouse or a partner), the vast majority (86%) say they sit down to a "family dinner," with most or all of their household sitting down to dinner together, at least once a week. Furthermore, nearly six in ten (58%) report sitting down to such meals at least four times per week. However, there is nonetheless a sentiment that such family meals are in decline, with 59% saying their family today has fewer family dinners than when they were growing up.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,368 U.S. adults surveyed online between October 16 and 21, 2013 by Harris Interactive. (Full findings, including data tables, can be found here)

Looking at the number of family dinners per week those Americans living with family sit down to, differences can be seen by both generation and household composition:

  • Matures (81%) are more likely to report having four or more family dinners per week than Baby Boomers (62%), who are in turn more likely to do so than either Gen Xers (50%) or Echo Boomers (52%). The same progression is evident when honing in specifically on likelihood to have family dinners every night (61% Matures, 37% Baby Boomers, 24% Gen Xers, 23% Echo Boomers).
  • While the image of the family dinner might bring to mind parents and children gathering around the table to rehash their days, today's kids lead busy lives – which may be contributing to the fact that those in households with out children are more likely to report sitting down to family dinners every night (36% without, 26% with).

If family dinners are experiencing a downslide, it doesn't seem to be attributable toward any negative feelings toward them – past or present. Over nine in ten (92%) family "diners" – those whose households sit down to one or more family dinners per week – describe them as something they look forward to, and eight in ten Americans (80%) have fond memories of their family dinners when they were growing up.

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