Do TV Cooking Shows Make Us Fat? : The Salt Women who cooked the meals they saw prepared on television weighed more, on average, than those who simply watched, a study shows. The findings challenge the notion that home cooking is always best.
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Do TV Cooking Shows Make Us Fat?

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Do TV Cooking Shows Make Us Fat?

Do TV Cooking Shows Make Us Fat?

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

If you're a fan of TV cooking shows, your viewing habits may be shaping your eating habits. According to researchers, that could be bad for your waistline. NPR's Allison Aubrey has the story.

ALLISON AUBREY, BYLINE: If you've ever watched an episode of "Giada," the fashionable foodie on the Food Network, you may have noticed that she makes a lot of rich pasta dishes and chocolate desserts.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "GIADA AT HOME")

GIADA DE LAURENTIIS: I'm melting half a cup of chocolate chips for my homemade chocolate-hazelnut spread.

AUBREY: Now, Giada seems to be able to cook like this and stay thin. But a new study shows many home cooks who follow TV cooking shows can't seem to pull this off.

LIZZY POPE: It's a bit of an anomaly, right?

AUBREY: That's study author Lizzy Pope. She's a registered dietitian who teaches at the University of Vermont. As a fan of cooking shows, she started to wonder whether they were influencing people's cooking and body weight. So she surveyed about 500 women, asking detailed questions about their habits, and she documented their weight.

POPE: Our main finding of the study is that it seems that if you watch food television and then actually cook the recipes, you might be at risk for packing on a few extra pounds.

AUBREY: On average, about 11 pounds compared to women who watched the shows but were not in the habit of cooking at home.

POPE: We were somewhat surprised because there's also a lot of research that shows that cooking at home is healthier for you.

AUBREY: There's even data to suggest that the more often people eat out, the heavier they are. But Pope says she doesn't want this to turn people off home cooking.

POPE: It is great to cook at home, and as a dietitian, I want to encourage everyone to do that as much as possible.

AUBREY: But she says you've got to be mindful of how and what you cook.

POPE: Butter in your own kitchen is still butter, and it's still going have the same calories as it would have if you were getting it from a restaurant meal.

AUBREY: And you probably won't find much inspiration for lighter fare on the cooking shows.

POPE: If you're just watching, like, "Pioneer Woman" or "Giada" or "Barefoot Contessa," which are such great shows - and sometimes I watch them to relax - they are not necessarily portraying healthy recipes.

AUBREY: It seems rich comfort foods might just work better as entertainment. Allison Aubrey, NPR News.

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