Preparing own meals may not mean healthier diet

September 16, 2010 in Healthy Eating, Nutrition Topics in the News

Preparing own meals may not mean healthier diet
According to surprising new study findings from Australian researchers, young adults who have a hand in making their own meals may not eat much better than those who leave dinner to someone else.

In a study of 2,800 Australians between the ages of 26 and 36, researchers found little evidence that those who typically helped prepare the main meal on a workday had more healthful diets than those who left the cooking to someone else in the household.

In general, women who said they shared the task of meal preparation tended to get more vegetables in their overall diet than women who avoided kitchen duty, but the difference amounted to less than one extra serving.

Similarly, men who had sole responsibility for meal preparation tended to eat more lean meat and meat alternatives than their less culinary-minded peers. But again, the average difference was minor.

The findings, reported in the Journal of American Dietetic Association, seem to run counter to the theory that people who have a hand in making their own meals generally eat better.

While few studies have examined this idea, a couple have found an association between involvement in meal prep and better diet quality, in both teenagers and young adults.

But while these latest findings did not show any strong relationship, they do not mean that people are better off leaving the cooking to someone else or ordering take-out.

Researchers say the study, published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, shows that simply being involved in meal preparation is not enough.  People must also have to make the right decisions and include healthy foods in the meals.

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