Research presented Sunday at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2015 in Orlando, Florida, could mean bad news for U.S. restaurants and automakers. One study found eating more home cooked meals may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes while another revealed better health is linked to taking public transportation to work instead of driving. Researchers analyzed data from nearly 58,000 women in the Nurses’ Health Study and more than 41,000 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.
The study followed their eating patterns for as long as 36 years and found people who ate about two homemade lunches or dinners each day -- or about 11 to 14 meals per week -- had a 13 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a major risk factor for heart disease. This was compared to those who ate less than six home-cooked lunches or dinners per week. There was not enough data to include breakfast patterns.
The study, which was funded by National Institutes of Health, found eating homemade meals was associated with less weight gain over eight years in middle-aged and older health professionals. Accumulating research in recent years has suggested dining out, particularly at fast-food chain restaurants, is linked to lower diet quality and higher body weight in children and young adults.
“The trend for eating commercially prepared meals in restaurants or as take out in the United States has increased significantly over the last 50 years,” said Geng Zong, a research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. “At the same time, type 2 diabetes rates have also increased.”
Meanwhile, a Japanese study presented at the annual five-day conference showed that not using your car to get to work is best for weight control and your health. Researchers compared bus or train commuters, walkers or bikers with drivers. They found that public transportation users were 44 percent less likely to be overweight, 27 percent less likely to have high blood pressure and 34 percent less likely to have diabetes compared to drivers. Bus or train commuters also surprisingly had lower rates of diabetes and high blood pressure and were less likely to be overweight than their walking or biking counterparts.
“People should consider taking public transportation instead of a car, as a part of daily, regular exercise,” said lead study author Dr. Hisako Tsuji, director of the Moriguchi City Health Examination Center in Osaka, Japan. “It may be useful for healthcare providers to ask patients about how they commute.”
The study assessed 5,908 adults, who received an annual health examination in 2012 offered by the Moriguchi City health center. In each of the three commuting groups, the menial age of participants was 49 to 54 years of age.