If you’re trying to lose weight, you’re probably focusing on what you eat, rather than where and how you eat it. But according to a new Ohio State University study, the structure of your meals may be even more important than how often you eat them.
After surveying more than 12 800 Ohio residents who reported eating at least one family meal in the week before their interview, researchers found that people who never watched television or videos during their meals had 37% lower odds of obesity compared to people who always stayed glued to their screens during dinnertime.
What’s more, people who always cooked their meals at home had a 26% lower risk of obesity than people who ate only some or no home-cooked meals. Those who always cooked at home and never ate their meals with their screens blaring had a 47% lower obesity risk, the study found.
While the researchers couldn’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship, past studies suggest that both of these factors can play a significant role in weight control.
For one, plopping down in front of the TV drowns out the sound of your chewing, which may actually cause you to overeat, according to research from Brigham Young and Colorado State universities.
So tune into your meal instead of the TV, the researchers say. The more you pay attention to your food, the less likely you are to overdo it on your portion sizes.
Plus, people who cook their meals at home typically consume fewer kilojoules, fat and sugar, according to a study from John Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. You’re less likely to rely on frozen meals and fast food when you go out to eat, too.
So even if you don’t typically spend much time in the kitchen, try easing your way into cooking at home so you know exactly what’s going into your food.