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B. Why Social Dining is Beneficial for the Young and the Old

Narrator: This is Science Today. Studies have found that elderly people, who live and eat alone, often suffer from poor nutrition. In fact, studies indicate the diets of the elderly are frequently lacking in many essential vitamins and minerals. But it's not as if they are avoiding more nutritious foods. In fact, Joanne Ikeda, a nutritionist at the University of California, Berkeley, says solitary, elderly diners were just eating less.

Ikeda: That is, they didn't have much of an appetite and so they were apt to eat very little and try to get it over with as quickly as possible.

Narrator: Yet, seniors who had friends or relatives to share meals with, or those with access to social dining, such as in senior centers, tended to do better nutritionally and emotionally. And it's not just seniors who nutritionally benefit from social dining - Ikeda says some studies found children do better, too.

Ikeda: Children who eat alone, tend to eat fewer fruits and vegetables. If you're a parent, you can understand that! Vegetables are not a high favorite of children.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.