Objective: The aim was to examine whether self-preparation of food increases the liking of healthy and unhealthy foods.
Method: The study used a 2 (preparation: self-prepared vs. other-prepared) × 2 (healthiness: healthy vs. unhealthy) between-subjects design. Female participants (N = 120) tasted food that was either self-prepared or other-prepared, and that either contained markedly healthy or unhealthy ingredients. Interindividual differences in dietary restraint were also assessed. Liking and perceived healthiness of the food served as the main dependent variables.
Results: A significant interaction effect of food preparation and healthiness of the food on liking was revealed: Self-preparation increased the liking of the healthy but not of the unhealthy food. This effect was particularly strong for individuals with high levels of dietary restraint. Moreover, the combined effect of food preparation and healthiness of the food on liking was mediated by perceived healthiness of the food.
Conclusion: The results bolster public health programs trying to encourage people to eat less prepared ready-to-eat foods and more self-prepared food. Because time available for home food preparation is often limited, programmatic efforts to encourage food preparation could be extended to schools and workplaces.
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