Watching Cooking Shows Could Make You Fat

Put down the remote—new research links cooking shows, higher BMI

Woman Cooking
Hero Images/Corbis

You’ve heard it before—cooking at home saves you money and can save you from the gigantic portions, high calorie counts and expense of eating out. But don’t be so quick to flip to your favorite cooking show for inspiration. New research suggests that cooking shows (which are watched by up to 91 percent of food shoppers) could make you fat.

A team of researchers from Cornell University surveyed 501 females between 20 and 35 years of age, asking questions about cooking habits, weight and height, and how respondents found new recipes. They learned that when it comes to cooking shows, there are two kinds of people—“viewers,” who merely watch food on TV, and “doers” who try the recipes they see on cooking shows. The study found that “doers” had higher body mass index (BMI) than those who merely viewed—and that, on average, they weighed 11 pounds more than their non-cooking counterparts.

“It seems that if you watch food television and then actually cook the recipes that you see, you're at risk for having a higher BMI,” the study’s author told NPR. She notes that cooking shows often feature recipes loaded with butter, fat and calories. And don’t think firing up Pinterest or other social media will do you waistline any favors, either—finding recipes on social media had the same correlation with higher BMI.

Though the study seems to show that cooking from scratch is linked with higher BMI, too, participants who found recipes in print or in person were less likely to have a high BMI than those seeking inspiration from cooking shows or social media. Pope says cooking at home is still okay, as long as you’re “mindful of how and what you cook.” Does that mean cooking bacon on the barrel of a gun is still out? Dang.

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