Cooking at home, skipping TV during meals may cut obesity risk

Washington:People who cook meals at home and do not watch TV or videos while eating are less likely to be obese, a new study has found.

Researchers from Ohio State University in the US studied about 12,842 survey participants who said that they ate at least one family meal in the week prior to their interview.

Obesity was defined as a body mass index (BMI) at or above 30, calculated from self-reported height and weight measures collected in the survey. Researchers found that adults who reported never watching TV or videos during family meals had significantly lower odds of obesity compared with peers who always watched something during mealtimes.

Those whose family meals were all home-cooked also had lower odds of obesity than other adults who ate some or no home-cooked meals. “How often you are eating family meals may not be the most important thing. It could be that what you are doing during these meals matters more,” said Rachel Tumin of Ohio State University.

“This highlights the importance of thinking critically about what is going on during those meals, and whether there might be opportunities to turn the TV off or do more of your own food preparation,” Tumin said.

Researchers found the lowest odds of obesity for those adults who engaged in both healthy practises – eating home-cooked food and doing it without a TV or video on – every time they ate a family meal.

Obesity was as common in adults who ate family meals one or two days a week as it was in those who ate family meals every day, researchers said.

“Regardless of family meal frequency, obesity was less common when meals were eaten with the television off and when meals were cooked at home,” said Sarah Anderson of Ohio State University. The study was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.