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Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2017 May 23;14(1):68. doi: 10.1186/s12966-017-0524-9.

Association between home food preparation skills and behaviour, and consumption of ultra-processed foods: Cross-sectional analysis of the UK National Diet and nutrition survey (2008-2009).

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Centre for Diet & Activity Research, MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.
Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, University of Hong Kong, Pok Fu Lam, Hong Kong.
Centre for Diet & Activity Research, MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.



'Ultra-processed foods' (UPF) have been industrially processed and tend to be higher in saturated fat, sodium and sugar than other foods. There is some evidence that consumption of UPF is associated with overweight, obesity and related diseases. In developed countries more than half of dietary energy is attributed to UPF. One reason for reliance on UPF may be poor home food preparation skills or infrequent use of these. This relationship has been previously proposed but not tested. We examined the relationship between home food preparation skills and behaviour and consumption of UPF.


We used data from adults in the UK National Diet & Nutrition Survey 2008-09. Home food preparation skills and behaviours of adults (n = 509) were assessed using questions on confidence using eight cooking techniques, confidence cooking 10 foods, ability to prepare a cake or biscuits without help, and whether or not participants prepared a main meal five or more days per week. Individuals' UPF consumption was determined from four-day estimated diet diaries. Associations were adjusted for age, gender, occupational social class and household composition.


In fully adjusted models, individuals who were confident with all 10 foods (adjusted beta (95% CI) = -3.76 (-6.02 to -1.50)), able to bake cakes or biscuits without help (-3.87 (-6.62 to -1.12)), and cooked a main meal at least five days a week (-2.84 (-5.43 to -0.24)) consumed a lower percentage of dietary energy from UPF.


In UK adults better home food preparation skills and more frequent use of these skills tended to be cross-sectionally associated with lower UPF consumption. Greater encouragement of these skills may help reduce reliance on UPF.


Cooking; Diet; Nutrition; Processed foods

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