Can Cooking More At Home Lead To A Healthier Diet?

healthy-dinnerResearchers with the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health wanted to find out if people that cook at home frequently maintain a healthier diet than those who dont.

For the study they:

  • Reviewed data from the 2007 to 2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey which analyzed 24-hour recall data from more than 9,000 participants that were 20 years old or older.

  • Collected measures including total calories, grams of fat, sugar and carbohydrates per day.

  • Collected data on the number of fast food meals consumed per week.

  • Collected data on the number of frozen and ready-to-eat meals consumed in the past 30 days.

The analysis:

  • Across all cooking frequencies, those trying to lose weight showed better diet quality compared to those not trying to lose weight.

  • Those that worked more than 35 hours per week were more likely to cook at home less frequently.

  • Blacks were more likely to live in households where cooking dinner at home took place at a low or medium frequency when compared to whites.

The Conclusion

The researchers concluded that individuals who cooked at home frequently consumed fewer calories at home than those who cooked at home less frequently. Cooking at home was also associated with consumption of fewer carbohydrates, less sugar and fewer fast food meals, frozen meals and ready-to-eat foods.

Efforts to encourage home cooking should consider time constraints, lack of access to affordable, high-quality, fresh ingredients, as well as lack of cooking equipment, which limits the amount of food Americans are able to prepare themselves at home, says lead researcher Julia Wolfson, MPP, CLF-Lerner Fellow at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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