News Release

Enjoying meals prepared at home: AQ short-cut to avoiding diabetes?

Peer-Reviewed Publication


People who often consume meals prepared at home are less likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes than those who consume such meals less frequently, according to new epidemiological research reported by Qi Sun, of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Heath, Boston, USA and colleagues as part of PLOS Medicine's special issue on Preventing Diabetes.

Internationally, there is an increasing tendency for people to eat out, and this could involve consumption of fast food, for example. Concerns have been raised that such people have a diet that is rich in energy but relatively poor in nutrients -- this could lead to weight gain which is, in turn, associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Conversely, 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 and/or obesity.

Sun and colleagues employed large prospective datasets in which US health professionals -- both men and women--were followed-up for long periods, with rigorous collection of data on health indicators, including self-reported information on eating habits and occurrence of diabetes. The results were corrected for various known factors that could affect dining habits, including marital status. All in all, the study analyzed 2.1 million years of follow-up data.

The findings indicate that people who reported consuming 5-7 evening meals prepared at home during a week had a 15% lower risk of type 2 diabetes than those who consumed 2 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.

Well-established diabetes prevention strategies include behavioral interventions aimed at increasing exercise and improving dietary habits. Sun and colleagues' findings suggest that the nutritional and lifestyle benefits of consuming meals prepared at home could contribute to these diabetes prevention efforts.


Research Article


Funding for this work was provided by the National Institutes of Health, CA186107, CA167552, and DK058845,; and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, R00-HL098459, The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests:

I have read the journal's policy and the authors of this manuscript have the following competing interests: DME declared: (1) The Culinary Institute of America, a not for profit cooking school, for whom I have served as a consultant and member of their Scientific Advisory Committee; (2) Infinitus (China) Company Ltd, a manufacturer of Chinese Herbal products, for whom I have performed scientific consulting with regard to the design of clinical studies to test herbal products; (3) Campus for Health (Japan), for whom I have performed consulting services in an effort to promote health and wellness educational programs in Japan; (4) Nutrition Development Group, LLC, for whom I have performed consulting services with regard to nutrition science and its application to novel web based educational products; (5) Panera Bread Company, for whom I have provided consulting services with regard to nutrition science and its application to menu design. In each instance, I have received a consulting fee but do not own equity or stock.


Zong G, Eisenberg DM, Hu FB, Sun Q (2016) Consumption of Meals Prepared at Home and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: An Analysis of Two Prospective Cohort Studies. PLoS Med 13(7): e1002052. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002052

Author Affiliations:

Department of Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America



Geng Zong
Harvard School of Public Health
Nutrition v677 Huntington Avenue
BOSTON, 02115

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