A new study reveals that those who cook their own food at home have a healthier diet than those who don’t.
Eat at home to stay healthy in 2022
Researchers from the University of Washington interviewed 437 residents of nearby King County and had them complete a questionnaire detailing their eating experiences. They compared this data to a metric devised by the USDA called the Healthy Eating Index.
The index, which evaluates adherence to federal guidelines set for a healthy diet, is weighted on a 100-point scale.
The study shows that those who cooked at home roughly three times a week had an index score of 67., whereas those who doubled the number of times they cooked at home had a score of 74.
Home-cooked meals means families enjoying diets lower in calories, sugar, and fat, at no extra cost to the monthly food budget.
“By cooking more often at home, you have a better diet at no significant cost increase, while if you go out more, you have a less healthy diet at a higher cost,” notes Adam Drewnowski, the study’s lead researcher and a professor of epidemiology, in a university release.
“The differences were significant, even with a relatively small study sample.”
Studies have already drawn attention to the link between consuming food prepared outside the home and obesity. More than a third of Americans are obese.
Post-pandemic new normal: a more unhealthy world
While many aspects of the “new normal” that will emerge in the coming weeks, months and years are uncertain, one thing that seems increasingly obvious is that the post-pandemic world will be a much unhealthier one than before.
Before the pandemic, Britons were spending around £38 per month each on takeaways, home deliveries and meal kits, according to accountancy firm KPMG, a trend that was already growing. But between spring 2020 and spring 2021 average monthly spend per person reached £53.
“The change that would have happened in three to five years in the sector has happened in months when businesses reacted as the pandemic started,” said Will Hawkley, KPMG’s global head of leisure and hospitality.
Major fast food chains such as Burger King and McDonalds say they are expecting home delivery to expand.
Pizza Hut is launching 125 new locations over the next three years to serve home delivery.
“We believe the increased demand for delivery is a trend that is here to stay,” Neil Manhas, general manager of Pizza Hut UK, said.
“Sales have been consistently higher than pre-lockdown and we’re actively recruiting for delivery drivers and managers.”
Click here to read more about how people’s eating habits have been affected by the pandemic
As we note in our dieting bible, Dieting Done Right, which is available from Gumroad, restaurant and takeaway food is usually far more calorific and less healthy than home-cooked equivalents, for a variety of reasons.
One of the principal reasons may be that more fat is used in the cooking of the food, and this may also, depending on the quality of the establishment, be low-quality vegetable oil, which is extremely bad for you.
Because Americans work more than people from other Western nations, they are deemed to be “time poor”, which makes cooking at home a luxury.
Although common wisdom would suggest that those who are poorer might resort to eating fast food, the researchers didn’t find a correlation between income or education level and one’s propensity to eat out
While the study involved self-reporting— a methodology prone to faulty memory— Drewnowski explained that the vast majority of nutritional research is done this way.
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