Americans are cooking fewer meals at home and eating more convenience foods prepared elsewhere. Cooking at home is associated with higher quality diets, while a reduction in cooking may be associated with increases in obesity and risk factors for chronic disease. The aims of this study were to examine cooking as an intervention for weight control in overweight and obese adults, and whether such an intervention increases participants’ food agency and diet quality.
Overweight and obese adults were randomized into one of two intervention conditions: active or demonstration. Both conditions received the same 24-week behavioral weight loss intervention, and bi-weekly cooking classes. The active condition prepared a weekly meal during a hands-on lesson, while the demonstration condition observed a chef prepare the same meal. The active condition lost significantly more weight at six months compared with the demonstration condition (7.3% vs. 4.5%). Both conditions saw significant improvements in food agency scores and Healthy Eating Index scores, though no significant differences were noted between groups.
The addition of active cooking to a weight management intervention may improve weight loss outcomes, though benefits in diet quality and cooking behaviors may also be seen with the addition of a demonstration-only cooking intervention.