Preparing Food Helps Young Adults Eat Better

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Young adults who often purchase their own food and prepare meals at home eat fast food less often, eat more fruits and vegetables and have better overall diet quality than those who are not involved in planning and cooking their meals, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota.

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The study surveyed more than 1,500 people ages 18 to 23 about their food purchasing and preparation habits and the quality of their diets. The researchers found 31 percent of those surveyed who reported high involvement in meal preparation also consume five servings of fruits or vegetables daily, compared with three percent of those who reported very low involvement in meal preparation. Eighteen percent of the "high participation" group met guidelines for consuming servings of deep-yellow or green vegetables, compared with just 2 percent of the "very low involvement" group.

The researchers found the young adults most likely to be involved with food preparation and purchasing in association tend to be female; Asian, Hispanic or white; and eating at fast-food restaurants fewer than three times per week. Still, even among study participants who were very involved in food preparation, the study found many young adults do not meet recommended dietary guidelines in what they eat. "Cooking skills, money to buy food and time available for food preparation were perceived as inadequate by approximately one-fifth to more than one-third of the sample." The researchers conclude: "To improve dietary intake, interventions among young adults should teach skills for preparing quick and healthful meals."

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