Are Celebrity Chefs’ Recipes Contributing to the Obesity Crisis?

A new study from Britain's Coventry University reveals that celebrity chefs may compound the country's obesity problem by featuring too many fatty and highly caloric ingredients in their recipes.

  • Share
  • Read Later
Getty Images

Chef cutting salmon fish

Celebrity chefs may not be such experts, after all — at least in health. A new study from Britain’s Coventry University reveals that celebrity chefs may compound the country’s obesity problem by featuring too many fatty and highly caloric ingredients in their recipes.

Researchers examined 904 recipes from 26 chefs and found that 87 percent are not in accordance with the British government’s healthy eating guidelines, Reuters reports, using large amounts of saturated fatty acids, salt and sugar. Only 13 percent of the celebrity chef-approved recipes used nutritional ingredients that fall under the nation’s Food Standards Agency recommendations. Some experts estimate that by 2020, about 70% of adults in the U.K. and U.S. will be overweight, while England’s obesity rate has risen to 24.8% of adults, ages 16 and over, and 16.3% of children, ages 2 to 15, according to data from 2011.

(MORE: How to Write Like a Top Chef: Get a Ghostwriter)

The study, published in the Food and Public Health journal, comes on the heels of a study in the British Medical Journal that found television stars Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson’s recipes to be not so healthy in comparison to ready-made meals. Oliver’s mini shell pasta with a creamy smoked bacon and pea sauce contained 125 grams of fat and 63 grams of saturated fat, while Lawson’s beer braised pork knuckles runs about 1,340 calories per serving, the Guardian noted.

Though the Coventry University study indicates that the recipes come from some of the U.K.’s best selling cookbooks, author and university lecturer Ricardo Costa said he’s not naming names.

“This study is not about naming and shaming celebrity chefs,” he said. “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.”

But not everyone agrees that celebrity chef recipes are contributing to the obesity problem. The U.K. National Health Service said the study reaches unreliable conclusions since it does not include how frequently people are using the unhealthy recipes and how they compare to other recipes. “It seems unlikely that cooking some of these recipes for a special occasion or as a treat will harm your health, especially if you eat a balanced diet and compensate for treats with healthier options at other mealtimes,” the NHS said on a recent blog post.

Regardless of whether celebrity chefs are to blame,  Gwyneth Paltrow is probably feeling a little bit vindicated right about now.

MORE: Why Don’t People Like Gwyneth Paltrow’s New Cookbook?


It's only a problem if people cook like these chefs every day. Adding cream to meals can easily be substituted with something healthier, the problem is that chefs don't generally care about healthy... they care about people loving their food and coming back. To ensure this is the case, much butter, cream, oil and salt is added. Once in a while, to go out and enjoy a meal like this is fine, but eating this way every day... probably not a good idea.


People need to stop blaming everyone else for their weight & health problems. Take responsibility for your own actions. If your are over weight or unhealthy because of the food YOU put into your mouth, that's your fault. 


Chefs and the schools are not, and have never been, concerned in the least with healthy cooking or healthy eating. Most chefs are obese themselves (e.g. Paula Deen and most others). They know how to cook delicious tasting food and couldn't care less if they, and the people they feed, develop early Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, some forms of cancer (breast & colon-increased risks for obese), knee and hip replacements and on & on & on. Look at most of them! Do you REALLY think they hit the gym and eat low-sugar, low-fat meals? Please!! 

JohnHillman 1 Like

Paula Deen is a great example. She hid her diabetes for several years to promote her unhealthy cook books.