Cooking at home can lead to consuming fewer calories and healthier foods, according to a new study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Research.
“When people cook most of their meals at home, they consume fewer carbohydrates, less sugar and less fat than those who cook less or not at all — even if they are not trying to lose weight,” says Julia A. Wolfson, MPP, a CLF-Lerner Fellow at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and lead author of the study.
Surprisingly, the study also found those who cook at home six or seven nights per week tend to eat less when they do go out to dinner.
Co-authors Wolfson and Sara N. Bleich, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School, examined the responses to a questionnaire filled out by 9,000 US-based participants with a minimum age of 20.
Eight percent of them cooked dinner once or even less per week and they consumed an average of 2,301 calories, 84 grams of fat and 135 grams of sugar per day.
Forty-eight percent of survey respondents cooked dinner six to seven times per week and they consumed an average of 2,164 calories, 81 grams of fat and 119 grams of sugar per day.
Drs. Wolfson and Bleich found that those who cook at home are less dependent on frozen foods and less likely to choose fast foods when they dine out.
The researchers say it won’t be easy to get people cooking more often, but there are ways.
“Time and financial constraints are important barriers to healthy cooking and frequent cooking may not be feasible for everyone,” she says. “But people who cook infrequently may benefit from cooking classes, menu preparation, coaching or even lessons in how to navigate the grocery store or read calorie counts on menus in restaurants.”