Public Health Nutrition

HOT TOPIC - Cooking and health

Cooking frequency may enhance survival in Taiwanese elderly

Rosalind Chia-Yu Chena1, Meei-Shyuan Leea2a3, Yu-Hung Changa4 and Mark L Wahlqvista1a2a3 c1

a1 Division of Preventive Medicine and Health Services Research, Institute of Population Health Sciences, National Health Research Institutes, 35 Keyan Road, Zhunan, Miaoli County 350, Taiwan, Republic of China

a2 School of Public Health, National Defense Medical Center, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China

a3 Asia Pacific Health and Nutrition Centre, Monash Asia Institute, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

a4 Division of Health Policy and Translation, Institute of Population Health Sciences, National Health Research Institutes, Zhunan, Taiwan, Republic of China


Objective To investigate the association between cooking behaviour and long-term survival among elderly Taiwanese.

Design Cohort study. The duration of follow-up was the interval between the date of interview and the date of death or 31 December 2008, when censored for survivors. Information used included demographics, socio-economic status, health behaviours, cooking frequencies, physical function, cognitive function, nutrition knowledge awareness, eating out habits and food and nutrient intakes. These data were linked to death records. Cox proportional-hazards models were used to evaluate cooking frequency on death from 1999 to 2008 with related covariate adjustments.

Setting Elderly Nutrition and Health Survey in Taiwan, 1999–2000.

Subjects Nationally representative free-living elderly people aged ≥65 years (n 1888).

Results During a 10-year follow-up, 695 participants died. Those who cooked most frequently were younger, women, unmarried, less educated, non-drinkers of alcohol, non-smokers, without chewing difficulty, had spouse as dinner companion, normal cognition, who walked or shopped more than twice weekly, who ate less meat and more vegetables. Highly frequent cooking (>5 times/week, compared with never) predicted survival (hazard ratio (HR) = 0·47; 95 % CI, 0·36, 0·61); with adjustment for physical function, cognitive function, nutrition knowledge awareness and other covariates, HR was 0·59 (95 % CI, 0·41, 0·86). Women benefited more from cooking more frequently than did men, with decreased HR, 51 % v. 24 %, when most was compared with least. A 2-year delay in the assessment of survivorship led to similar findings.

Conclusions Cooking behaviour favourably predicts survivorship. Highly frequent cooking may favour women more than men.

(Received October 04 2011)

(Revised March 20 2012)

(Accepted March 30 2012)

(Online publication May 11 2011)


c1 Corresponding author: Email