fbpx Skip to content

Takeout Food and Life Span

More meals prepared away from home may lead to shorter life spans.

Takeout food in front of a door

It can feel like a treat to step away from the stove and order takeout food. Scientists, however, have a new warning about getting too comfy with the convenience. In a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, researchers looked at a large pool of Americans involved in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and found that those who very frequently ate meals prepared outside their home (twice or more daily) increased their risk of early mortality by 49% when compared with those who ordered out once a week or less. The team defined meals “prepared outside the home” as those put together at restaurants, supermarkets, food vendors and so on. The why likely comes back to what people are eating—rather than where the food is prepared.

Takeout food and meals prepared outside the home are typically higher in calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugar, and that recipe places people at higher risk for ailments like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Self-reported studies like these can show only association—they can’t conclusively say that frequent eating out causes early death. However, this research does present a strong argument for encouraging people to prepare more of their meals at home and for asking food providers to offer more healthy options. That way, a once-in-a-while date night or pizza party should not derail healthy eating goals.

See also: Fast Food Nation

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

Related Articles