A dietitian has warned parents about the problem with giving children an early dinner, standard practice in many households with young people.

Alex Parker, dietitian from The Biting Truth, told Kidspot there are a few downsides to the standard 5pm dinner time for children - and it's actually nothing to do with food.

"If children are eating at 5pm they are generally eating without their parents," she said.

"There is a huge amount of evidence to show the positive social skills associated with children eating meals with the family," the expert added.


Sitting down for a meal with family contributes greatly to a child's language acquisition.

"Researchers found that for young children, dinnertime conversation boosts vocabulary even more than being read aloud to," she said.

"Dinner is the most reliable way for families to connect and find out what's going on with each other."

Additionally, sitting together for a family meal is also a better way for parents to monitor food intake.

"Family dinners provide opportunities for parents to model and regulate their kids' healthy eating habits," the expert said.

"Children who share family meals three or more times per week are more likely to be in the healthy weight range, and have healthier dietary and eating patterns."