EATING plenty of home cooked food is the best way to keep diabetes at bay, suggests new research.
The study shows people who eat five to seven evening meals prepared at home during a week had a 15 per cent lower risk of type 2 diabetes than those who consumed two such meals or fewer in a week.
Researchers say that, internationally, there is an increasing tendency for people to eat out, which could involve consumption of fast food.
Concerns have been raised that such people have a diet that is rich in energy but relatively poor in nutrients – which could lead to weight gain and, in turn, an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
But there has been little authoritative research investigating the role that preparing meals at home may play in altering the long term risks of developing diabetes or obesity.
Doctor Qi Sun, of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in the United States and colleagues, employed large studies in which US health professionals – both men and women – were followed for long periods, with self-reported information on eating habits and occurrence of diabetes among the data collected.
The results were corrected for various known factors that could affect dining habits, including marital status. All in all, the study analysed 2.1 million years of follow-up data.Dr Sun said: “The findings indicate that people who reported consuming five to seven evening meals prepared at home during a week had a 15 per cent lower risk of type 2 diabetes than those who consumed two such meals or fewer in a week.
“A smaller, but still statistically significant, reduction was apparent for those who reported consuming more midday meals prepared at home. “Other analyses suggest that less weight gain could partially explain the reported reduction in occurrence of type 2 diabetes in those often eating meals prepared at home.”
He said the findings suggest that the nutritional and lifestyle benefits of eating meals prepared at home could contribute to efforts to prevent diabetes.
The findings form part of the journal PLOS Medicine’s special issue on Preventing Diabetes.