Categorized | Good Eats, Health studies

Eating Out 2 Or More Days Weekly Could Shorten Your Life

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Eating out is a popular activity worldwide. But, new research reveals that consuming restaurant food two or more days a week is significantly associated with an increased risk of death.

The US Department of Agriculture recently estimated that Americans’ daily intake from food away from home increased from 17 percent in 1977-1978 to 34 percent in 2011-2012. At the same time, the number of restaurants has grown steadily, and restaurant-industry sales are forecasted to increase significantly.

Although some restaurants provide high-quality foods, the dietary quality for meals away from home, especially from fast-food chains, is usually lower compared with meals cooked at home. Evidence has shown that meals away from home tend to be higher in energy density, fat, and sodium, but lower in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protective nutrients such as dietary fiber and antioxidants.

“Emerging, although still limited, evidence suggests that eating out frequently is associated with increased risk of chronic diseases, such as obesity and diabetes and biomarkers of other chronic diseases,” said lead investigator Wei Bao, MD, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Epidemiology, College of Public Health, University of Iowa. “However, little is known about the association between eating meals away from home and risk of mortality.

In the study, Bao’s group tracked data from major U.S. government health surveys from 1999 to 2014. The surveys involved face-to-face household interviews of more than 35,000 adults over the age of 20. The researchers compared participants’ survey answers on daily nutrition to death records through to the end of 2015.

Future studies are still needed to look more closely at the association of eating out with death from cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia, and other chronic diseases. 

Overall, there were 2,781 deaths recorded, including 511 from cardiovascular disease and 638 from cancer.

“This is one of the first studies to quantify the association between eating out and mortality,” said Bao. “Our findings, in line with previous studies, support that eating out frequently is associated with adverse health consequences and may inform future dietary guidelines to recommend reducing consumption of meals prepared away from home,” Bao said.

The take-home message is people should be encouraged to consider preparing more meals at home,” concluded the investigators.

Future studies are still needed to look more closely at the association of eating out with death from cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia, and other chronic diseases.

“While encouraging clients to consider preparing healthy meals at home, registered dietitian nutritionists might also focus on how selections from restaurant menus can be healthy,” said co-investigator Linda G. Snetselaar, professor and chair, Preventive Nutrition Education, Department of Epidemiology, College of Public Health, University of Iowa.

“Tailoring strategies to each client by reviewing menus from restaurants they frequent can help them make healthy food choices,” said Snetselaar. — Newswise

 

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