The latest Social Policy Report Brief from the Society for Research in Child Development summarises some of these findings and calls for their wider dissemination. Eating together is linked to vocabulary growth and academic achievement in younger children, and is associated with lower rates of behaviour problems. There are benefits in terms of avoiding obesity and eating disorders. Teenagers who eat with the family five or more times a week are protected against the temptations of nicotine, marijuana and alcohol. Shared meals tend to be healthier, and teenagers who enjoy them get through more fruit and vegetables.
All this, when the average American family mealtime lasts about twenty minutes. For this important context for development, even a short exposure seems to make a big difference.
You can download the Brief here.