Source: Harvard University study of 16,000 - 9 year olds, Columbia University study

And children whose families share meals often during the week are more likely to develop healthy attitudes towards food. They have higher intakes of essential vitamins and other nutrients and tend to snack less.

Even if you don't have kids, the same benefits apply with friends and family. Think of the dinner table as a stage for telling stories, building bonds and creating memories – all of which leads to healthy emotional and social development.

The health benefits are not limited to dinnertime gatherings. A family or social meal shared at breakfast or lunch can be just as beneficial, maybe more so if sharing a meal earlier in the day can help set the tone for the remainder of the day. So have everyone synchronize their calendars to fit in a few social meals a week, and you may enjoy the benefits for years to come.