Greater Frequency of Cooking Dinner at Home and More Time Spent Cooking Are Inversely Associated With Ultra-Processed Food Consumption Among US Adults

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Cooking at home has been promoted as a strategy to improve diet quality; however, the association between cooking behavior and ultra-processed food intake is unknown. Objective: The objective of this study was to examine associations between frequency of cooking dinner at home and time spent cooking dinner with ultra-processed food intake. Design: Cross-sectional, nationally representative data from the 2007-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey were analyzed. Participants/setting: Participants were 9,491 adults (20 years and older) in the United States. Main outcome measures: The main outcome measure was the proportion of energy intake (averaged from two 24-hour dietary recalls) from the following 4 Nova food-processing groups: (1) unprocessed or minimally processed foods, (2) processed culinary ingredients, (3) processed foods, and (4) ultra-processed foods. Statistical analyses performed: Separate linear regression models examined associations between cooking frequency and time spent cooking dinner and proportion of energy intake from the 4 Nova food-processing groups, adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics and total energy intake. Results: Ultra-processed foods comprised >50% of energy consumed independent of cooking frequency or time spent cooking. Higher household frequency of cooking dinner and greater time spent cooking dinner were both associated with lower intake of ultra-processed foods (P trends < .001) and higher intake of unprocessed or minimally processed foods (P trends < .001) in a dose–response manner. Compared with cooking 0 to 2 times/wk, adults who cooked dinner 7 times/wk consumed a mean of 6.30% (95% CI –7.96% to –4.64%; P < .001) less energy from ultra-processed foods. Adults who spent more than 90 minutes cooking dinner consumed 4.28% less energy from ultra-processed foods (95% CI –6.08% to –2.49%; P < .001) compared with those who spent 0 to 45 minutes cooking dinner. Conclusions: Cooking at home is associated with lower consumption of ultra-processed foods and higher consumption of unprocessed or minimally processed foods. However, ultra-processed food intake is high among US adults regardless of cooking frequency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Keywords

  • Adults
  • Cooking behavior
  • Dietary intake
  • Dietary quality
  • NHANES
  • Ultra-processed foods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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