March 20, 2015
1 min read

Food TV, cooking from scratch linked to higher BMI among women

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Women who watch cooking television and mimic the recipes have a higher BMI compared with women who obtain recipes from other sources, according to recently published data.

“The message is clear. Food TV should be a viewing experience only, not a cooking experience,” Lizzy Pope, PhD, RD, post-doctoral fellow at Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University, said in a press release.

Lizzy Pope*

Pope and colleagues surveyed 501 women, aged 20 to 35 years with a mean BMI of 25.96 (range = 16.34-57.58) to evaluate where they acquire new recipe ideas from, along with their height and weight. Using linear regression, researchers studied the link between recipe source, cooking from scratch and BMI.

Results indicated that a higher BMI was associated with participants who obtained new food ideas from cooking shows and social media (P < .05 for both). No significant correlation was seen between BMI and recipe obtainment from other print, online or in-person sources.

Researchers also found a significant association between watching cooking shows and cooking from scratch and a higher BMI (P < .05).

Pope and colleagues noted that participants who simply watched cooking television, without cooking, were not associated with a higher BMI.

“If we had more food shows that used healthier recipes and showed how they can look good, taste good, be exciting and be social, which is what these shows illustrate, we could have an impact on public health. Food show executives and hosts need to realize they are social role models and have a role to play in battling obesity and health care costs. They can be part of the solution or continue contributing to a major problem,” Pope said in the release.

“If you’re watching food TV, just make sure you’re conscious of the ingredients you’re using if you bring the TV recipes into your home kitchen.  It’s great to cook at home, but calories still count there, so adjustments might be needed if you’re cooking from food TV recipes frequently,” Pope told Medicine. – by Casey Hower

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.

*Photo courtesy of Andy Duback