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Study Finds Home Cooked Meals are Healthier and Cheaper Than Eating Out

2015 was the first year that Americans spent more food dollars outside of the home then they did on groceries. However, a recent study suggests that people who cook at home rather than eat out tend pay less for food and have healthier diets.


Participants in the study included 437 people who took part in the Seattle Obesity Study. All of the participants were asked to remember what they ate over the past week, both in restaurants and at home. Researchers used the Healthy Eating Index to determine if participants were getting the right combination of fruits, vegetables and other elements from their diet.


In general, home cooked meals were found to be lower in calories, sugar, and fat. Home-cooked dinners were more likely to meet the federal guidelines for a healthy diet. For example, households who cooked and ate at home three times per week had a score of 67 on the Healthy Eating Index. In comparison, those who ate at home six times per week had a score of 74.


Families who cooked at home more often also had lower monthly food costs than those who cooked at home less. Additionally, no association was found between income and/or education and eating at home or eating out.


Researchers from Oregon State University led the study. It was published online ahead of print on February 28, 2017, in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.


The trend towards consuming more meals outside of the home is having an impact on the nutritional quality of the American diet. Poor diets contribute to obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and osteoarthritis. This study adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests that home cooked meals are generally healthier than those consumed outside the home.

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