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Frequency of eating home cooked meals and potential benefits for diet and health: cross-sectional analysis of a population-based cohort study

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Mills, S 
Brown, H 
Wrieden, W 


BACKGROUND: Reported associations between preparing and eating home cooked food, and both diet and health, are inconsistent. Most previous research has focused on preparing, rather than eating, home cooked food; used small, non-population based samples; and studied markers of nutrient intake, rather than overall diet quality or health. We aimed to assess whether frequency of consuming home cooked meals was cross-sectionally associated with diet quality and cardio-metabolic health. METHODS: We used baseline data from a United Kingdom population-based cohort study of adults aged 29 to 64 years (n=11,396). Participants self-reported frequency of consuming home cooked main meals. Diet quality was assessed using the Mediterranean Diet Score, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) score, fruit and vegetable intake calculated from a 130-item food frequency questionnaire, and plasma vitamin C. Markers of cardio-metabolic health were researcher-measured body mass index (BMI), percentage body fat, haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), cholesterol and hypertension. Differences across the three exposure categories were assessed using linear regression (diet variables) and logistic regression (health variables). RESULTS: Eating home cooked meals more frequently was associated with greater adherence to DASH and Mediterranean diets, greater fruit and vegetable intakes and higher plasma vitamin C, in adjusted models. Those eating home cooked meals more than five times, compared with less than three times per week, consumed 62.3 grams more fruit (99%CI 43.2 to 81.5) and 97.8 grams more vegetables (99%CI 84.4 to 111.2) daily. More frequent consumption of home cooked meals was associated with greater likelihood of having normal range BMI and normal percentage body fat. Associations with HbA1c, cholesterol and hypertension were not significant in adjusted models. Those consuming home cooked meals more than five times, compared with less than three times per week, were 28% less likely to have overweight BMI (99%CI 8 to 43%), and 24% less likely to have excess percentage body fat (99%CI 5 to 40%). CONCLUSIONS: In a large population-based cohort study, eating home cooked meals more frequently was associated with better dietary quality and lower adiposity. Further prospective research is required to identify whether consumption of home cooked meals has causal effects on diet and health.



home cooking, diet, cardio-metabolic health

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity

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BioMed Central
Wellcome Trust (087636/Z/08/Z)
ESRC (ES/G007462/1)
MRC (MR/K023187/1)
MRC (MC_UU_12015/1)
MRC (MC_UU_12015/5)
The Fenland Study is funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council. Support from Medical Research Council programmes MC_UU_12015/1 and MC_UU_12015/5 is acknowledged. This report is independent research arising from a Doctoral Research Fellowship Grant DRF-2014-07-020 for the lead author (SM), supported by the National Institute for Health Research. JA and MW received funding from the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), a UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC) Public Health Research Centre of Excellence. HB and SM are members of Fuse, also a UKCRC Public Health Research Centre of Excellence. Grant reference number is MR/K02325X/1. Funding for CEDAR and for Fuse from the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Economic and Social Research Council, Medical Research Council, the National Institute for Health Research and the Wellcome Trust, under the auspices of the UKCRC, is gratefully acknowledged. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the National Health Service, the Department of Health, the funders or UKCRC. The funders had no role in the study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; nor in the writing of the report and the decision to submit for publication.