Better In Than Out: Homemade Meals May Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

PROTECTION against the development of Type 2 diabetes (T2D) may be improved by eating more homemade meals. It is already known that dining out excessively has negative health implications and could be a contributing risk factor for T2D. However, a recent study, presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2015 on 9th November, showed that people who consumed more homemade meals over an extended period of time were at less risk of developing the condition than those who ate processed meals or dined out more.

The implications of eating out include significantly higher calorie and salt intake, which may lead to high blood pressure and weight gain, as documented earlier this year. These are well known risk factors for the development of T2D and heart disease. “The trend for eating commercially prepared meals in restaurants or as take-out in the United States has increased significantly over the last 50 years. At the same time, T2D rates have also increased,” stated Dr Geng Zong, Research Fellow, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Dr Zong and his colleagues investigated the effects of increasing the consumption of homemade meals in a study of almost 58,000 women and more than 41,000 men, none of whom had diabetes, cancer, or cardiovascular disease at baseline. The participants were followed for up to 36 years between 1986 and 2012, with the results showing that those who ate an average of two homemade meals every day (11–14 meals per week) were at 13% lower risk of developing T2D than those who ate less than one homemade meal every day (<6 meals per week). Furthermore, individuals with a higher homemade meal intake gained less weight over an average of 8 years, which the researchers suggest contributed to their reduced risk of T2D.

The link between poor diet and health problems such as T2D is undeniable. This study shows that more needs to be done to educate people on the effects that the food they eat can have on their health, and although no specific number of homemade meals per week is determined, Dr Zong recommends that it could be better to eat more.

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