Sep 27, 2014

Interviewer: The happy and healthy family isn't something that just happens. We're talking with Dr. Kyle Bradford-Jones, the family physician from the University of Utah about the top three components of a healthy family. And the top reason just might surprise you.

Announcer: Medical news and research from University Utah physicians and specialists you can use for a happier and healthier life. You're listening to The Scope.

Interviewer: So Dr. Jones, exactly what are the top three components? Let's go with number three.

Dr. Jones: So number three is getting plenty of sleep.

Interviewer: Okay.

Dr. Jones: Now this is something that obviously is hard with our busy schedules. However, for the adults making sure you're getting at least seven to eight hours of sleep. For the kids, even more than that, sometimes nine to ten hours of sleep a night. It's huge to making sure that you are functioning well both physically, emotionally, and socially.
A lot of families let their children go to bed later and then sleep in a little bit. Even if they're getting the same amount of sleep, it's actually not quite as good as if they go to bed a little bit earlier. So if they go to bed closer to maybe 8 or 9:00 as opposed to 10:00 and get the same amount of sleep, it's going to be better for them.

Interviewer: So like a regular sleeping schedule.

Dr. Jones: Yes, it's huge.

Interviewer: Okay, all right. And it doesn't have to be like a strict one, like you have to go here, to bed at this time. And if you don't, then we're going to punish you.

Dr. Jones: Exactly.

Interviewer: Just stick them on a regular schedule. Right?

Dr. Jones: Exactly, yes.

Interviewer: Okay, all right. Number two.

Dr. Jones: So number two. Active activities together.

Interviewer: Okay.

Dr. Jones: So obviously families like to have activities together and do things, and spend time, things to do that's keeping you active. So obviously during the summer, going swimming, going for a hike, just going to the park and playing around together as a family so that you're moving around and getting some exercise, but also that you're doing it together. So it's not that you take your kids to the park and you sit on the side and look at your phone.

Interviewer: Right.

Dr. Jones: But making sure that you're interacting with them and playing games with them to help you guys be active as well as develop more emotionally.

Interviewer: Okay. So like family sports day, a family game day, those are the things. Right?

Dr. Jones: Exactly.

Interviewer: Okay. And what is the top component of a healthy family?

Dr. Jones: So the number one component has a lot of research behind it and its actually eating meals together as a family at home.

Interviewer: That's simple.

Dr. Jones: It exactly. Now, there is a lot of research that the more meals you have together as a family, you're much less likely to be obese. You make healthier food choices.

Interviewer: Okay.

Dr. Jones: The children have better social skills. The marriages are stronger. And it basically helps to strengthen those emotional bonds in the family as well as, obviously, the physical health. So things like turning off the TV and just spending a little bit of time together as much as possible. Now, this is easier said than done obviously because with time and with schedules it's not possible to do this probably every day for most families. However, the more you do it the better off you and your family are going to be both physically and emotionally.

Interviewer: Now, is there a right or a wrong way to do this? So say if a family, parents working all day, kids out of schools doing studying, and then they come home and there is not really much time to prepare a good healthy family meal, and then so just kind of do a little take-out, and then maybe a movie on the couch. Does that count?

Dr. Jones: Kind of. I would say before the movie on the couch, yes.

Interviewer: Okay. It doesn't really matter what you eat as long as you eat it together.

Dr. Jones: Exactly.

Interviewer: Okay. Healthy though.

Dr. Jones. That's right.

Interviewer: Okay.

Dr. Jones: As healthy as you can.

Interviewer: Okay.

Dr. Jones: But the big component is having it together.

Interviewer: Together, right.

Dr. Jones: Exactly.

Interviewer: Okay. And so no movies. Parents turn your cell phones off, kids as well.

Dr. Jones: Exactly.

Interviewer: And just talk to each other.

Dr. Jones: Exactly.

Interviewer: All right.

Dr. Jones: Just interact.

Interviewer: And apparently you told me that this is actually backed up by a lot of research. Right?

Dr. Jones: It is. A lot of research has been done on this to kind of show these things where you'd have to lower obesity rate [inaudible 00:03:44] social skills.

Interviewer: So it's not just talk.

Dr. Jones: Exactly.

Interviewer: Okay.

Dr. Jones: Exactly.

Interviewer: All right.

Dr. Jones: Now, all three of these components as we mentioned take time and so that's something that's difficult for all of us. However, implementing them as much as you can even if it's less than the ideal is going to help you and your family.

Interviewer: I'm just thinking about in my family where my parents are always out all the time and we're never really home together because either somebody is working or somebody is doing something.

Dr. Jones: Yeah.

Interviewer: How does that work? Should somebody change their work schedule or what do you suggest? Is breakfast a good meal to have together?

Dr. Jones: Absolutely.

Interviewer: Okay. So it's not just dinner.

Dr. Jones: Exactly. If there is one meal that works better than another, that's just fine. And even if one family member is missing due to work or an activity or whatnot and everyone else gets together, that's still a positive.

Interviewer: That's still fine.

Dr. Jones: Yes.

Interviewer: Okay. Any final thoughts? Anything we left out?

Dr. Jones: Just to keep in mind to focus on both physical and emotional health. All three of these things with getting better sleep, active activities together as a family, and eating meals together at home all help contribute to both of those aspects.

Announcer: We're your daily dose of science, conversation, medicine. This is the Scope, University of Utah Health Sciences Radio.

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