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TV chefs' recipes too high in fat, calories for WHO recommendations

December 21, 2012|By Mary MacVean
  • Food from British TV chefs like Nigella Lawson were looked at in a study comparing TV dinners to the chefs' food.
Food from British TV chefs like Nigella Lawson were looked at in a study comparing… (Tim Whitby / Getty Images )

TV dinners got a relative thumbs up in a medical journal — when compared with recipes offered by TV chefs.

Surprised? Turns out that the British TV dinners, called “ready meals” there – had fewer calories and less fat and fiber than the chefs’ recipes.

None of the dishes complied with the World Health Organization recommendations, however, the study in the Christmas issue of the British Medical Journal said.

The researchers compared 100 main-course recipes from five bestselling cookbooks with 100 “ready meals” main courses from three leading British supermarkets.

The context is that about $15 billion worth of TV dinners are sold each year in Western Europe, and while the market is less developed in the U.S., it is expanding. And chefs who appear on television “often advocate home cooking,” the study said. Like the Food Channel on U.S. television, the United Kingdom has the dedicated Good Food channel.

No study has looked at the nutritional quality of those chefs’ food, the study authors said.

By 2020, according to some projections, more than 70% of adults in the U.S. and the United Kingdom will be overweight – making the content of meals a worthy study subject.

But the authors noted that TV chefs are only one source of information and recipes for home cooks, and they suggested a future study that looks at what people do in their kitchens.

“Maximum nutritional benefit is likely to be derived from home cooking of nutritionally balanced recipes primarily using raw ingredients, rather than relying on ready meals or recipes by television chefs,” the authors

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