Nearly 30 million Americans, or 9% of the population, have diabetes. The vast majority of these cases involve type 2, which develops when the body can no longer handle excess sugar in the diet.

Being overweight or obese is an important trigger for type 2 diabetes, and researchers at the American Heart Association meeting in Orlando, Fla. report that one way to combat obesity and diabetes is to cook more meals at home.

“We know that eating out is associated with lower diet quality, and higher obesity in young adolescents, as well as insulin resistance and high triglyceride levels,” Geng Zong, from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health said at a news conference discussing the results. He and his colleagues wanted to see if the same effect occurred among adults.

Cooking meals at home, says Zong, avoids many of processed ingredients and unhealthy fats that restaurants and fast food chains rely on so heavily. The research involved data from the Nurses Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study that asked 99,000 men and women about their lunch and dinner eating habits over more than three decades. Those who reported eating about two of the meals at home each day on average had a 13% lower risk of getting diabetes compared to those who had fewer than six homemade meals each week.

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