Public Health Nutrition

Research Papers

Is cooking at home associated with better diet quality or weight-loss intention?

Julia A Wolfsona1 c1 and Sara N Bleicha1

a1 Department of Health Policy and Management, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, 624 N. Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA

Abstract

Objective To examine national patterns in cooking frequency and diet quality among adults in the USA, overall and by weight-loss intention.

Design Analysis of cross-sectional 24 h dietary recall and interview data. Diet quality measures included total kilojoules per day, grams of fat, sugar and carbohydrates per day, fast-food meals per week, and frozen/pizza and ready-to-eat meals consumed in the past 30 d. Multivariable regression analysis was used to test associations between frequency of cooking dinner per week (low (0–1), medium (2–5) and high (6–7)), dietary outcomes and weight-loss intention.

Setting The 2007–2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Subjects Adults aged 20 years and over (n 9569).

Results In 2007–2010, 8 % of adults lived in households in which someone cooked dinner 0–1 times/week and consumed, on an average day, 9627 total kilojoules, 86 g fat and 135 g sugar. Overall, compared with low cookers (0–1 times/week), a high frequency of cooking dinner (6–7 times/week) was associated with lower consumption of daily kilojoules (9054 v. 9627 kJ, P=0·002), fat (81 v. 86 g, P=0·016) and sugar (119 v. 135 g, P<0·001). Individuals trying to lose weight consumed fewer kilojoules than those not trying to lose weight, regardless of household cooking frequency (2111 v. 2281 kJ/d, P<0·006).

Conclusions Cooking dinner frequently at home is associated with consumption of a healthier diet whether or not one is trying to lose weight. Strategies are needed to encourage more cooking among the general population and help infrequent cookers better navigate the food environment outside the home.

(Received November 23 2013)

(Revised May 06 2014)

(Accepted August 06 2014)

(Online publication November 17 2014)

Keywords

  • Home cooking frequency;
  • Diet quality;
  • Weight-loss intention;
  • Adults

Correspondence

c1 Corresponding author: Email jwolfso7@jhu.edu

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