Associations Between Household Frequency of Cooking Dinner and Ultraprocessed Food Consumption and Dietary Quality Among US Children and Adolescents

Anna Claire Tucker, Euridice Martinez-Steele, Cindy W. Leung, Julia A. Wolfson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Dietary quality is poor and intake of ultraprocessed foods (UPFs) is high among children and adolescents in the United States. Low dietary quality and high UPF intake are associated with obesity and higher risk of diet-related chronic diseases. It is unknown whether household cooking behavior is related to improved dietary quality and lower consumption of UPFs among US children and adolescents. Methods: Nationally representative data from the 2007–2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (n = 6032 children and adolescents £19 years of age) were used to examine the relationships between household cooking frequency of evening meals and children’s dietary quality and UPF intake using multivariate linear regression models adjusted for sociodemographics. Two 24-hour diet recalls were used to assess UPF intake and dietary quality [Healthy Eating Index-2015 (HEI-2015)]. Food items were categorized according to Nova classification to obtain the UPF percent of total energy intake. Results: A higher household frequency of cooking dinner was associated with lower UPF intake and higher overall dietary quality. Compared to children in households cooking dinner 0–2 times per week, children in households cooking dinner 7 times/week had lower intake of UPFs [b = -6.30, 95% confidence interval (CI) -8.81 to -3.78, p < 0.001] and marginally higher HEI-2015 scores (b = 1.92, 95% CI -0.04 to 3.87, p = 0.054). The trends toward lower UPF intake (p-trend <0.001) and higher HEI-2015 scores (p-trend = 0.001) with increasing cooking frequency were significant. Conclusions: In this nationally representative sample of children and adolescents, more frequent cooking at home was associated with lower intake of UPFs and higher HEI-2015 scores.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-22
Number of pages12
JournalChildhood Obesity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2024


  • Healthy Eating Index
  • United States
  • children
  • cooking
  • dietary quality
  • ultraprocessed food

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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