Home Cooking for Better Health

Type 2 diabetes risk linked to eating fewer homemade meals

(RxWiki News) Eating on the go has become a major trend in modern society. But if you're looking to give your health a boost, you may want to consider preparing your meals at home instead.

A new study from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH) found that eating more meals prepared at home may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In fact, eating about two homemade meals a day — or about 11 to 14 homemade meals a week — was linked to a 13 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes compared to eating fewer than six.

"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," said lead study author Geng Zong, PhD, a research fellow at HSPH, in a press release. "At the same time, type 2 diabetes rates have also increased."

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way the body processes blood sugar. With type 2 diabetes, the body either resists the effects of insulin (a hormone that regulates blood sugar) or doesn't produce enough.

While there's currently no cure for type 2 diabetes, this condition can often be managed by following a healthy diet and exercise routine. If these measures aren't enough, a patient may be prescribed medication or insulin therapy.

For this study, Dr. Zong and team used data from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study to look at 57,994 women and 41,679 men from 1986 to 2012.

None of these patients had diabetes, heart disease or cancer at the study's start. During the follow-up, 8,959 type 2 diabetes cases were identified.

After adjusting for demographic and lifestyle factors, these researchers found that each additional homemade lunch per week was linked to a 2 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Each additional homemade dinner per week was linked to a 4 percent lower risk.

Eating homemade meals was also linked to less weight gain among these patients overall. According to Dr. Zong and team, being overweight or obese can significantly increase the risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.

This study was presented Nov. 8 at the 2015 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions. Research presented at conferences may not have been peer-reviewed.

The National Institutes of Health funded this research. No conflicts of interest were disclosed.

Review Date: 
November 5, 2015