Fatty Recipes In Celebrity Chef Cookbooks 'Exacerbating' Obesity Crisis, Experts Warn

Are celebrity cookbooks contributing to obesity crisis?
Are celebrity cookbooks contributing to obesity crisis?

Celebrity chefs are "exacerbating" the country's obesity crisis by encouraging people to eat fatty dishes, a new study has claimed.

Nutrition experts tested more than 900 recipes from 26 famous cooks and found 87% fell "substantially short" of the

Government's healthy eating recommendations.

Just 13% used ingredients to create "healthy" meals in line with the Food Standards Agency's (FSA) guidelines, researchers from Coventry University said.

The study, published in the Food and Public Health journal, found that many celebrity chef recipes in cookbooks contained "undesirable levels" of saturated fatty acids (SFA), sugars and salt which are linked to obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

However the experts behind the study have refused to name the worst-offending chefs due to "professional practice protocols".

Did you cook recipes from any of these books last year?

The Collection | Antonio Carluccio

Top Cookbooks of 2012

Lead author Dr Ricardo Costa, a senior lecturer in dietetics at Coventry University, said: "This study is not about naming and shaming celebrity chefs. However given the level of trust the public tends to place in the nutritional integrity of these cooks' recipes, it's important to highlight where they're falling short of healthy eating benchmarks.

"When you have celebrity chefs involved with promoting many of the Government's healthy eating initiatives, you inevitably encourage a culture of confidence in their culinary practices.

"I think there ought to be a tightening up of regulation around what these chefs can present on their own terms when it comes to nutrition or healthy eating messages, particularly in light of the results of this study."

Some 92% of celebrity chefs sampled had at least one recipe with saturated fatty acids above the recommended intake for one day, the study found.

One meal contained more than five times the recommended amount, while half of the chefs had recipes with salt content equalling or exceeding the daily recommended limit of 6g.

Researchers also found 96% of recipes contained "high SFA content", while 65% had an average sugar content above the FSA's "high sugars content" benchmark.

Dr Costa added: "If people regularly use the recipes found in these cookbooks, it could be that celebrity chefs are exacerbating public health nutrition issues in the UK.

"Our research is aiming to draw more focused attention towards the recipes of professional cooks in the public eye, and will hopefully prompt the chefs to consider working with qualified dietetic and nutritional professionals in the future to reverse their potential negative impact."

The study's authors said evidence showed three-quarters of the public believed celebrity chefs promoted healthy eating.

The experts formed their list of famous chefs from the best-selling cookbooks on Amazon, as well as those listed on the Good Food Channel's website.

The study found that recipes from male celebrity chefs contained substantially more energy, macro-nutrients, sodium and salt per portion on average than their female counterparts.

Meanwhile, recipes from international chefs contained less energy, total fat and SFA, according to the research.

British celebrity chef recipes were higher in fibre than their international rivals, although on average the recipes only delivered 18% of the daily recommended amount.