Home » Health » Home-cooked Meals, Hold the TV, Linked to Less Obesity

Adults who never watch TV during family meals and eat mostly home-cooked food are much less likely than others to be obese, according to a recent U.S. study.

Past research has suggested that more frequent family meals are linked to lower obesity, but in the current study of more than 12,000 Ohio residents, eating at home, rather than out, and without the television on, was tied to lower obesity risk regardless of how often family was present.

It may be difficult for some families to eat a meal together every day, but they may be able to have healthier habits for the meals they do share, researchers conclude in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

“Families’ mealtime practices vary, and may be associated with adults’ obesity,” said lead author Rachel Tumin, of the Ohio Colleges of Medicine Government Resource Center in Columbus.

“Adults might eat more food when they are watching TV, and meals that are not home-cooked may be less healthy than meals that are home-cooked,” Tumin said by email.

To determine how family meal practices affect obesity risk, the study team analyzed data from the 2012 Ohio Medicaid Assessment Survey on for 12,842 adults who had eaten at least one family meal in the past week.

The participants answered questions about how often they ate meals at home with their family, how often they watched TV while eating and how many of their meals were home-cooked.

The researchers used self-reported height and weight data to calculate each participant’s body mass index (BMI), a ratio of weight to height. People with a BMI over 30 were considered obese, and one third of participants fell into this category.

Overall, 52 percent of respondents ate family meals six or seven days per week, 35 percent ate family meals about every other day and 13 percent ate meals with family one or two days a week.

About a third of adults watched TV during most or all family meals, while another 36 percent did not watch any TV…

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