Preparing more meals at home reduces risk of type 2 diabetes, study finds

Preparing more meals at home reduces risk of type 2 diabetes, study finds

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Preparing more meals at home can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a new study.

Researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, US investigated how dining out and eating at home affected diet quality, weight gain and the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Two studies of health professionals were conducted: one examined 58,051 women between 1986 and 2012, and the second followed 41,676 men between 1986 and 2010.

Data was collected on self-reported lunchtime and evening eating habits and occurrence of type 2 diabetes, with results corrected for factors that affect dining habits, such as marital status.

During 2.1 million person years of follow-up, 9,356 cases of type 2 diabetes were documented. Those who reported consuming between five and seven evening meals prepared at home per week had a 15 per cent lower risk of type 2 diabetes than those who consumed two such meals or fewer per week. This figure was nine per cent for midday meals.

Lead researcher Qi Sun and colleagues believe their findings suggest that frequent consumption of meals prepared at home leads to less weight gain. Because eating out can lead to increased consumption of fast food, this could explain why people who eat out more often had a raised risk of type 2 diabetes.

They added that the nutritional and lifestyle benefits of consuming meals at home can contribute to these type 2 diabetes prevention efforts.

The authors said: “Our findings suggest that people who eat MPAH (meals prepared at home) more frequently have a lower long-term risk of developing T2D, and that this association is partially explained by less weight gain over time.

“Taken together with evidence from previous studies that focused on MPOH (meals prepared out of home), these findings suggest that eating more MPAH instead of MPOH (especially fast foods) may help curb the risk of developing obesity and diabetes.”

The findings appear in the online journal PLOS Medicine.

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