Study finds longer people spend preparing food,the worse their health becomes
Home cooking may not be as healthy as you think.
The longer people spend preparing meals, the worse their health becomes, a study found.
The result contradicts the popular public health message that it is better to cook from scratch than rely on ready meals.
And it suggests that food isn’t healthy just because it is cooked at home.
Possible reasons include home chefs being extra generous with unhealthy ingredients such as butter and salt and feeling they have to eat more because of the time and effort that went into preparation.
Frequenting tasting of food as it is being prepared can lead to pounds creeping on over time.
It is also possible, say the researchers, that convenience foods have become healthier.
The researchers, from Rush University in Chicago, analyzed 14 years of data provided by more than 2,755 women in their 40s, 50s and 60s.
This included information on how long they spent cooking and the results of annual health checks for something called metabolic syndrome.
This is the medical term for when someone has three out of five risk factor that raise the odds of heart disease and strokes.
Warning signs include high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity.
The women who spent the longest cooking and clearing up meals were more likely to develop metabolic syndrome, the journal Preventive Medicine reports.
Similarly, if a woman started to spend more time cooking, her odds of metabolic syndrome rose more quickly than average.
However, females who did less cooking as time went on cut their odds of health problems.
Researcher Dr Brad Appelhans said that we may have to rethink public health policies that make home cooking a ‘cornerstone’ attempts to improve health.
He said:‘In the past three or four decades, the proportion of our food that we prepare at home has decreased, and the prevalence of obesity has increased. Noting this, public health experts frequently promote home cooking as a way to curb the obesity epidemic and reduce risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. However, our research with over 2,700 women that greater time spent preparing food each week is actually linked to increasing odds of having risk factors for heart disease and diabetes over time.
‘While the reasons underlying this association are still unclear, we think these findings indicate the need to revise our public health messaging, including the need to emphasize healthy cooking methods and to consider the potential benefits of healthy convenience meals.’
He added that it is important to cook healthily, not just frequently.