The research claims families could be missing out on the health benefits of sharing mealtimes.
A survey of 1,000 respondents which showed that families questioned in Scotland and Wales were most likely to eat in the living room or in front of the television - 3.4 days a week on average, while 26% of families questioned in Scotland said they ate this way every day.
Across the UK, only 36% of households eat together at the table every day, while 15% say they never eat a main meal together at a dining table in a typical week
The results have prompted Heart Research UK and MatalanDirect.com to launch a new campaign, Together at the Table, which encourages families to reap the heart health benefits of sitting down for meals.
Research suggests that children and adolescents who share family meals around a dining table at least three times a week are more likely to be in a normal weight range, have healthier dietary habits and eating patterns and are less likely to engage in disordered eating than those who don’t.
All of these factors work towards ensuring a healthier heart, according to Heart Research UK and MatalanDirect.com.
They hope that the Together at their Table campaign, launched to tie in with February’s National Heart Month, will bring about behaviour change amongst households at mealtimes and encourage families to eat more meals together around a table for the good of their loved ones’ heart health.
As well as providing healthy meal plans and downloadable resources to make mealtimes fun, the campaign includes a competition for families to take on a three-week challenge of eating around the table and recording their experience.
Barbara Dinsdale, Heart Research UK Lifestyle Manager, said: “We know how difficult it can be for families to make that commitment to eat meals together, but evidence suggests that eating together could offer a simple solution to the nation’s obesity challenge as well as providing a range of wider benefits to family health and wellbeing.”
Chief operating officer at MatalanDirect.com, Andrew Banks, said: “Our team is focused on helping modern families make the most of their homes, so when we heard about the ‘Together at the Table’ campaign we were really eager to be involved.
“We’ll be helping to educate our customers with exclusive, healthy eating resources as well as supporting Heart Research UK with raising awareness of the importance and benefits of eating as a family.”
TV cook and Heart Research UK ambassador Sally Bee is also supporting the campaign, and regularly eats together with her family.
Mum-of-three Sally, who survived three heart attacks when in her 30s, appears on the Lorraine ITV programme, and said: “Mealtimes should not only be for food nourishment and body nourishment, it’s time for family nourishment too. Life is too short not to make the most of your time around the table with your most precious loved ones.”
According to further research published in Paediatrics 2011, shared mealtimes reduce the chances of being overweight (12%), eating unhealthy foods (20%) and having disordered eating (35%), whilst making people more likely to eat healthy foods (24%).
Over the last 10 years the Heart Research UK has funded over £10.2m on medical research in hospitals and universities across the UK as well as £1.7m on innovative community-based lifestyle projects that help people live healthier, happier and longer lives.
For further information on the campaign visit Heart Research UK.