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Can Watching Cooking Shows Lead to Weight Gain?

Mar 18, 2015
TIME Health
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Cooking is always healthier than not cooking—right? Not according to a new study published in the journal Appetite, which found that the more a woman prepared food she saw on a cooking show, the higher her BMI.

The researchers surveyed about 500 women, with an average age of 27, about their weight, height and cooking habits. Getting information from cooking shows and social media were both associated with a higher BMI.

MORE: The Truth About Home Cooking

Other studies have shown that merely watching someone else eat influences the way you eat—which is “the exact situation that may occur when people watch cooking shows on television,” the authors write. The study didn't look at what foods the women actually consumed, mind you.

Other research suggests that the foods featured on TV aren't always healthier than eating out. One study found that recipes by TV chefs in the U.K. had worse nutritional stats—more calories, more saturated fat and less fiber—than prepared food from supermarkets, which in and of itself is a pretty low bar for nutrition.

MORE: The Case Against Cooking

Scroll through your feed of Instagram dinner pics, and you’ll realize your friends aren’t helping, either. The authors speculate that social media was linked to BMI “because people may post their most indulgent “picture-perfect” recipes,” they write.

Need help deciding what to make for dinner? Check out the 50 healthiest foods of all time—nothing bacon-wrapped here, promise. Your BMI will thank you.

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