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    New Study on Importance of Family Dinner Coincides with Family Day

    NEW YORK -- As retailers gear up to promote Family Day -- A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children on Monday, Sept. 24, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University here has released the fourth edition of its "Importance of Family Dinners" study.

    NEW YORK -- As retailers gear up to promote Family Day -- A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children on Monday, Sept. 24, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University here has released the fourth edition of its "Importance of Family Dinners" study.

    The new report, which is sponsored by the Safeway Foundation, finds that compared to teens who have frequent family dinners (five or more per week), those who have infrequent family dinners (two or fewer) are three and a half times likelier to have abused prescription drugs; three and a half times likelier to have used an illegal drug other than marijuana or prescription drugs; three times likelier to have used marijuana; more than two and a half times likelier to have used tobacco; and one and a half times likelier to have drunk alcohol.

    The report also reveals that compared to 12- and 13-year olds who have frequent family dinners, those who have infrequent family dinners are:
    -- Six times likelier to have used marijuana;
    -- More than four and a half times likelier to have used tobacco; and
    -- More than two and a half times likelier to have used alcohol.

    Among 14- and 15-year olds, those who have infrequent family dinners are three times likelier to have used marijuana and two and a half times likelier to have used tobacco compared to those who have frequent family dinners. Among 16- and 17-year olds, those who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to have used marijuana and almost twice as likely to have used tobacco compared to those who have frequent family dinners.

    "This year's survey finds the impact of frequent family dinners is strongest amongst 12- and 13-year olds, though the relationship holds true at every age," said Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA's chairman and president and former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, in a statement. "The evidence is on the table. Teens who have frequent family dinners are less likely to smoke, drink, abuse prescription dugs, and use illegal drugs."

    The CASA report found 59 percent of teens report having dinner with their families at least five times a week, the same proportion CASA has observed over the past several years. Consistent with what teens report, 59 percent of parents say they have frequent family dinners. Findings in The Importance of Family Dinners IV draw from CASA's 12th annual back-to-school survey, released this past August.

    According to the study, 84 percent of teenagers said they prefer to have dinner with their families rather than eat alone.

    CASA created Family Day in 2001 as a national effort to promote parental engagement as a simple, effective way to raise healthier children.

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