Far fewer families sit down together for meals with 19% of Brits admitting to not eating with family during an average week, according to a study from Table Table – the Whitbread restaurant.

The survey found more than one third of people spend a combined two hours a week eating just with their partner after the children have gone to bed, signalling a decline in family meal times.

The most popular topics of conversation when families do sit down together include TV for 54% of people, gossiping about friends (29%), school (25%) or work (35%).

The topics of conversation that are off the table include politics, house prices, celebratory gossip and arguing with family members.

The research has been commissioned as part of its search for the nation’s taste heroes focused on encouraging families to dine together and share life around the table.

Jo Watling, marketing manager at Table Table said: “Traditionally, meal times are supposed to be an opportunity for all family members to congregate, eat and communicate. Our findings show that, unfortunately, this isn’t happening as much as perhaps it should.

“At Table Table, we want to get families sharing life, food and stories around the table, which is why we are on the hunt for this year’s ‘Family Tasting Teams’. We hope to further build on the success of the campaign from the past two years and encourage even more families, no matter what age, to get involved with the campaign, giving them the opportunity to eat, learn and have fun together at Table Table.”