Bam! Is that Food Porn Making you Fatter?

sweets_to_blame_for_obesity_imageThe blame has fallen on sodas. Sugar-sweetened cereals. Fast food. Marketers advertising junk food to kids. Convenience over quality. But could another culprit be exacerbating the nation's obesity crisis? How about all those celebrity chefs and food porn we can't seem to stop watching?

In a recent health study conducted by Britain’s Coventry University and published in the journal Food and Public Health, the beloved celebrity chefs may be making struggles with obesity worse than ever, thanks mostly to their high calorie, fatty ingredients featured in many of their recipes.

The research team looked at more than 900 recipes from 26 popular television chefs, and found that nearly 90 percent of the recipes failed to meet the British government's healthy eating guidelines.

Most of the recipes featured high levels of saturated fats, sodium, and sugar. According to the data, just 13 percent of the celeb chef-approved recipes contained healthy ingredients with nutritional values that are recommended by the country's Food Standards Agency.

bam_is_that_food_making_you_fatter_imageEven Jamie Oliver, the plucky British chef known for his unconventional approaches to negating childhood obesity fared poorly. The study authors suggested that his recipe for mini shell pasta with a creamy smoked bacon and pea sauce was less healthy than a pre-made meal of similar quality. Oliver's version contained 125 grams of fat and 63 grams of saturated fat. Another popular chef, Nigella Lawson's beer braised pork knuckles recipe clocked in at more than 1,300 calories per serving.

The UK National Health Service dismissed the study's findings, saying it came to an unreliable conclusion because it lacked a measure of how often people are preparing the questionable recipes compared with making healthier foods. “It seems unlikely that cooking some of these recipes for a special occasion or as a treat will harm your health, especially if you eat a balanced diet and compensate for treats with healthier options at other mealtimes,” the agency said in a blog post.

While this study was conducted in the UK, the fascination with celebrity chefs and food porn is quite significant in the U.S. as well, where cooking shows, food-based reality television shows, and even talk shows regularly focus around food and cooking.

making_food_from_scratch_imageMaking food from scratch—as most of these shows demonstrate—has historically been touted as a much healthier option to the highly processed and store-bought meals. Even despite the fact that many of the recipes feature ingredients we know are bad for us no matter how little we consume—such as white sugar, oils, and dairy products—viewers are often led to believe they're still healthier choices.

And while more research may be needed to prove the correlation, one thing is certainly undeniable: We love our food. We especially love being validated through a celebrity chef who has the same cravings as we do. And that's not always a bad thing, say, if they're making a healthy smoothie recipe or a fresh salad. But when we let a chef validate us into another cream puff, there's no question it's time to turn the television off.

Learn more about Jill EttingerKeep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettingerResource: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/04/24/us-food-chefs-idUSBRE93N0OH20130424rn"

Sunwarrior

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