The key to happiness: Eating together

13 June 20243 min reading

A new scientific study conducted by the University of Minnesota highlights the positive effects of eating together with family or loved ones on individuals’ happiness, health, and well-being. These findings demonstrate that communal dining strengthens bonds between people and enhances social relationships.

Research conducted by the University of Minnesota in the United States, supported by Barilla Group, a leading food provider reaching millions of tables worldwide daily, has been published, showing the positive impact of communal dining on individuals’ happiness and well-being. The study, which involved over 1000 participants from the United States, Italy, and Germany, highlights how eating together with family or loved ones positively influences individuals’ happiness, health, and well-being.


Valeria Rapetti, Director of Nutrition and Well-being at Barilla Group, commented on the study, stating, “The research not only emphasizes the positive effects of communal dining, a fundamental aspect of the Mediterranean lifestyle, on adult health but also aligns with Barilla’s mission to offer enjoyable meals for a better life. This study shows that sharing a delicious meal around the same table is not just a tradition but a powerful cultural tool that can enhance the quality of life for individuals and societies alike. By supporting this research, Barilla reaffirms our commitment to bringing people together and promoting well-being.”

Professor William Doherty from the University of Minnesota stated, “Beyond reducing negative impacts on our health and alleviating depressive symptoms, we believe we believe communities should acknowledge the benefits of gathering around the same table with our families or loved ones. Our research demonstrates that communal family meals promote happiness and positive emotions.”

According to the research, 50% of participants prefer to share at least 6 meals per week with others. Dinner is the most common meal shared, with 65% of participants preferring it. Communal meals elevate individuals’ levels of happiness and well-being, playing a significant role in reducing depression symptoms and overall stress. Cooking and eating together help strengthen bonds among family members and loved ones. Conversing and listening to each other at the table enhance socialization and communication skills.


According to the published research, the most discussed topic during meals is the food being consumed. While food-related comments dominate conversations in the United States, in Germany and Italy, the main topic of conversation during meals is current news and events, averaging 69%.


More than 65% of participants express enjoyment in dining with their loved ones during dinner, with 77% of dinners being shared mostly on weekends. In addition to dinner, weekend breakfasts in the United States and Germany are also cherished moments spent together, while 80% of Italian participants prefer to dine with others during lunch.


The research indicates that Italians and Germans enjoy being together while preparing meals. 57% of Italians and 51% of Germans consider setting the table as a frequently shared activity. Although American participants may experience higher stress levels while preparing family meals, they begin to feel more connected to their loved ones and experience a more positive mood upon joining a family meal. Italians, on the other hand, report feeling much happier throughout the day after sharing a meal together.

To build a happier future, the following recommendations are made:

 Dedicate time to eat with your family or loved ones at least 3-4 times a week.

 Avoid electronic devices during meals and engage in conversation with each other.

 Cook and prepare the table together.

 Remain open to different cuisines and traditions.

 Make meal times special and enjoyable.

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