Study Shows Watching Food Network Makes You Fat

A new study published in the journal Appetite suggests that if you regularly watch cooking shows like those on The Food Network, you are more likely to be fat — with one specific caveat.

“Our main finding is that 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 [body mass index],” says study author Lizzy Pope, a researcher in nutrition and food science at the University of Vermont.

“In terms of weight, those who watched cooking shows and cooked frequently from scratch had a mean weight of 164 lbs,” according to the paper. However, the women who watched these shows for entertainment value and did not regularly prepare those meals, weighed around 153 pounds on average. The study also found that women who obtained cooking and recipe information from other print, online, or in-person sources did not have a significantly higher BMI.

The study involved 501 women aged 20–35. They were asked questions about how they obtained information on new recipes, as well as their cooking habits, their weight and height. From those answers, the researchers were able to come to the above conclusions. It’s not clear from the research why this connection between watching shows and preparing meals leads to a higher BMI, just that the correlation exists.

There is a common held belief that cooking at home is a healthier option than going out to eat, and this study is not disputing that. Restaurants often add extra ingredients like sugar, salt, butter and oil to make their meals taste better, and one can better monitor those things when cooking the actual meal at home. However, this study does show that you need to be mindful of what is in that recipe and how much you eat.

“If you’re just watching Pioneer Woman, or Giada at Home, or Barefoot Contessa — which are great shows that I sometimes watch to relax — they’re not necessarily portraying healthy recipes,” Pope says. “Butter in your kitchen is still butter. And it has the same calories as if you ate it in a restaurant meal.”

(Watching Food Network Makes You Fat photo: Getty Images)