Timelines and WaistlinesPosted: February 4, 2009
In an otherwise sort of frivilous NY Times article about the reality show The Biggest Loser, there was this interesting tidbit about rising obesity rates:
“Almost any kind of cooking you can produce in a kitchen is healthier than fast food.” The decline of home cooking worldwide, he said, is an underlying cause of obesity.
People are eating more, and more often,” Dr. Popkin said. “And the foods that they are consuming almost always replace meals cooked in a kitchen and eaten at a table.” It is difficult to quantify a decline in cooking skills, but many studies show that time in the kitchen has declined steeply since 1965, when American women spent a weekly average of 13 hours cooking. Last month the government of Britain, where obesity is spreading rapidly, passed a law requiring all secondary-school students to attend cooking classes.
Today, women in the United States report spending an average of 30 minutes a day preparing meals. The percentage of women who are overweight has risen to about 65 percent from about 30 percent in the 1960s.
While noting from the outset that it would be better to have a more gender-equitable and historically-contextualized research model to work with, it’s interesting to see some statistical research that suggests more time in the kitchen is assocated with a healthier diet. There are probably a lot of things you could take from this: that you’re less likely to eat an entire stick of butter when cooking at home than you are eating in a restaurant, that a more equitable division of domestic labor makes it easier to maintain healthy eating habits, that processed and packaged food saves you time but costs you in other ways, or (if you read the whole article) that good old fashioned healthy cooking can produce more long-lasting health effects than dramatic weight loss regimens.
Anyway, [/half-assed analysis].