• Half of all families say work commitments and afterschool activities are the most common reasons they don’t get together at meal times
  • 25% of married couples only eat together once a week
  • Families spend 78% more quality time together when they dine out 


ONLY 30% of UK families eat dinner together every night, new national research has revealed.

Exactly half of the UK says work commitments, modern shift patterns and children’s after school activities make it either impossible or very difficult to get the family together for meal times, according to the nationwide study by Harvester Restaurants.

Even more shocking is that most Brits only sit down for a meal with their wider families – grandparents, uncles and aunts – once every six months, the poll of 2,000 families reveals.

Furthermore, a quarter of married couples either never manage to find time to sit down together for dinner or manage it just once a week, according to the report.

More than half of the UK (51%) admit they sit down every night to eat their dinner on their laps while watching TV or using a computer.

Families living in Yorkshire are the most likely to sit down together to eat dinner at home every night, according to the research. But families living in the North-East of England are least likely to eat together every night.

More than half of the UK (55%) now has a TV set in the dining room, according to the research. Indeed, more than 15% of Brits admit they watch the TV during dinner either every night or most nights.

When we do manage to get together for an evening meal, the most popular subjects of discussion are family issues, friends, work and the news. Though 15% of our dinner table chatter revolves around social networks.

In fact 44% of families have banned mobile phones and tablets at the dinner table because they were spending too much time scanning social networks instead of talking to each other.

The good news is that when we do find time to sit down as a family, free from the distractions of mobile technology,images we enjoy talking to each other. A healthy 60% of all family mealtime is taken up by family conversation, with two thirds believing it’s the perfect time to bond and catch up.


This Morning’s Parenting Author, Broadcaster and Parenting Coach, Sue Atkins said: “It is more important than ever for families to find time to eat together. Not only does it promote healthy eating, but has been proven to strengthen relationships and improves cognitive development in children.

“Families need to make a real effort to set a date and make an occasion out of meal times. This will increase the likelihood everyone eats together and you’ll spend more quality time together. In fact, 78% of British families say they tend to spend longer together when they are out for a meal than when they eat together at home.”

The study by Harvester, the UK’s number one for family dining, also reveals that more than four in 10 families (41%) not only ban mobile phones at the home dinner table but also forbid their use when they dine out.

Almost a third of UK families (31%) now eat out together at least once a month, with 20% eating out once a fortnight and 13% once a week.