Eating home cooked meals frequently is associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes. In a fast paced world, dining out has become increasingly common.

The convenience of eating at a restaurant, picking up fast food or having pre-prepared meals delivered to the doorstep has become increasingly popular while at the same time, preparing meals at home has become less popular.

While dining out and takeaway food are convenient and may save time, they often come at the expense of good nutrition, with meals prepared out of home often being high in energy, salt and fat and low in essential micronutrients like vitamin C, iron and calcium. Conversely, home cooked meals enable you to control what goes into the dish and portion size.

While home cooking has been associated with lower intake of fat and sugar, there is little research on whether eating home cooked meals is linked to lower rates of lifestyle diseases.

Researchers investigated this, looking at the association between consuming midday and evening meals prepared at home and the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Data were analysed from two large studies: the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS), which has been following the health of more than 120,000 female registered nurses for many years, and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (HPFS), which consists of over 50,000 male health professionals.

Participants were administered a food frequency questionnaire at baseline, in 1986, and every four years thereafter. This assessed their habitual diet including how often their midday and evening meals were prepared at home. Any diagnoses of type 2 diabetes were also recorded.

For men and women, increased consumption of meals prepared at home was associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Men and women eating more meals prepared at home also consumed more fruits, vegetables, red meats, dairy products and whole grains.

Frequent consumption of meals prepared at home was associated with slower weight gain and lower risk of developing obesity.

Implications

The results of this large study suggest that there is a benefit to preparing meals at home when it comes to weight gain and type 2 diabetes.

Cooking meals at home enables you to control what goes in to the meal and portion sizes. Takeaway foods, and foods prepared at restaurants, are often high in salt, sugar and saturated fat – all of which contribute to increased risk of overweight and obesity and lifestyle-driven chronic disease.

If you’re time poor, there are a number of chefs who specialise in quick, simple recipes that are nutritious and delicious.

Last Reviewed: 28/08/2019

© Norman Swan Medical Communications.


References

Zong, G et al. (2016). Consumption of Meals Prepared at Home and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: An Analysis of Two Prospective Cohort Studies. PLoS Med 13(7): e1002052. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002052.