Do Cooking Shows Make You Fat?

7 thoughts on “Do Cooking Shows Make You Fat?”

  1. Interesting and well-written article, but you seem to imagine a reader (and a larger population of Americans) who is similar to yourself in class and education, or at least savvy. Food choice must be considered alongside the fact that obesity and poverty are closely interrelated, and many convenience and fast foods provide more “nutrition,” dollar for dollar, than healthy foods. Not to mention the government’s heavy subsidy of big agriculture, making corn and all its less healthy derivatives more affordable than lean meats, organic vegetables, and other truly healthy foods.

  2. Nancy: I think the issue you are raising is important, but not related to what Adam is trying to say. There are many problems associated with the way we eat, and poverty and availability is one of them. Adam discussing a different problem.

    I do think that questioning or even debating Pollan’s well founded food advice on the basis of a correlational survey study is a little farfetched. The nature of the Pope’s study is such that we can only say that those women who decide to cook what they saw tend to be heavier (not a lot though and not dangerously so). We don’t know whether this is because of watching the cooking shows or because of some other reason (having less self-control, a bigger appetite, etcetera). We cannot draw any cause-effect conclusion, that’s basic research methodology.

    Adam: I’m glad you are not the one involving Pollan and the others in the discussion and I’m glad you are defending them, there is absolutely no foundation to question their work in this research. And I like your piece :)

    1. Hi Anneke. Thanks for the thoughtful response. I should have clarified that I was responding directly to Adam’s summary of “what’s really wrong” with the food paradigm in this country — namely that we lack a meaningful food culture. I don’t think anyone can boil the nation’s many food-related issues down to a single problem, but especially not without mentioning class. The premise of choice underlies Adam’s article, but without the important caveat that many Americans lack the means to make healthy choices.

  3. I understand that Food Network can’t be blamed entirely, and I think your article makes some good points. But one area where I DO think they’re to blame is that they will falsely market recipes as healthy (and this happens all the time, not rarely). I was thinking about this when I saw the Washington Post’s take on this same survey.

    Obviously, “healthy” is a subjective term. But if you watch, say, Rachael Ray, she will very frequently identify a recipe as “so healthy” or “so good for you,” and meanwhile the recipe comes out to like 1,500 calories per portion…but hey, it has olive oil, so… (I will say, you don’t usually see this on Barefoot Contessa; she’s not going to tell you that cake will kill you, necessarily, but she’s not going to pretend it’s health food, either). This practice isn’t limited to Rachael Ray, either. Portion sizes also tend to be grossly overstated in Food Network recipes, including those marketed as everyday meals.

    I do think it’s incumbent for Americans to try to educate themselves about nutrition but A) Nutritional science is very confusing and often contradictory, with new, conflicting ideas emerging all the time and B) When shows are willfully deceptive about the kind of food they’re making, I see a problem there. Having to assume everyone on television is a liar may be a cynical, necessary step when watching Food Network, but that also doesn’t mean the network is doing everything right by being deceptive.

  4. I loved the article. I’m thankful for the decadent recipes highlighted on food shows but balance is key and I appreciated reading a thoughtful, well-written article on the subject. Thank you!

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