Study: Using TV Cooking Shows May Link to Added Pounds

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You’ve probably heard that cooking at home is an easy way to manage your weight and improve your health. But how much thought have you given to where you go to find new recipes? A study recently published in the journal Appetite found that, icanstockphoto10388793f you cook at home, using recipes and other information from TV cooking shows or social media sites may actually put you at risk of being a higher weight.

Recipes on cooking shows are often high in calories. The study used an online survey to ask 501 women ages 20-35 about their preferred sources of information about new foods, cooking habits, weight, and height.

A little over half the women said they cooked from scratch. Among both women who often cook from scratch and women who do not, getting food information from social media was associated with a higher BMI, a measure of body fat.

However, getting food information from TV cooking shows was only associated with a higher BMI among the home cooks and not among the women who rarely cooked. Among the cooking show fans, home cooks weighed 11 pounds more on average compared to non-cooks.

Getting food information from blogs, newspapers, friends, recipe packages, health websites and other sources was not linked to BMI.

Keep in mind that this study was only able to capture a single point in time, so it can’t show that watching cooking shows caused participants to gain weight. However, it does provide some preliminary evidence that cooking the recipes that you see on TV might not be so good for your waistline. You may also want to be wary of which social media sites you find your food information.

The authors speculate that cooking shows and social media may impact BMI by making it seem like everyone you know is indulging in unhealthy food. Additionally, chefs may be thought of as authority figures when it comes to food, so you may be more likely to cook an unhealthy recipe if you see your favorite chef prepare it on TV.

There is still plenty of evidence that cooking from scratch is better for your weight and your health than eating out or picking up prepared foods. To maximize the benefits of home cooking, seek out healthy recipes. Consider following people or organizations, like AICR, who promote healthier recipes on social media. If you like watching chefs prepare indulgent food on TV, consider your favorite shows entertainment and find your everyday recipes elsewhere.

For more on healthy cooking: AICR’s Healthy Recipes.


Author: Julia Quam

Julia Quam, MSPH, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist in the Washington, DC metro area. Julia is passionate about nutrition education and communicating evidence-based information about nutrition and physical activity to improve public health.

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