Study: Family-style mealtimes boost spirits, health of residents

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Social mealtimes help to enhance the well being of nursing home residents, according to a new study published by "Online First," the Web-based organ for unabridged, peer-reviewed British Medical Journal articles before they appear on paper.

Dutch researchers studied residents in five nursing homes, dividing them into two dining groups. One group ate meals in a setting with pre-plated service, while the intervention group ate in a social family style setting. The meals were similar in nutrient content. None of the residents had dementia.

Over six months, researchers found that family style mealtimes improved the mood of nursing home residents. While the intervention was simple, researchers noted, it had a large impact on quality of life, physical performance and body weight of nursing home residents. Various studies have repeatedly shown that dining considerations are at or near the top of most residents' priority lists.