Cookery classes found to foster healthy eating habits

Cooking classes can be a good way of promoting healthy diets, research by the University of Glasgow has shown. A year after attending cookery courses, participants were found to include more fruit and vegetables in their meals and consume less ready-made fare, the BBC reported recently.

The study involved parents of pre-school children in Scotland and the research focused on the longer-term benefits of developing cooking skills. The parents participating in the study attended four- to eight-week courses funded by local councils. Despite the large number of such programmes across the UK, there is still not enough information on their effects in the long term. For that reason, the research team focused on determining whether the courses delivered lasting benefits.

As part of the cookery programmes, the parents were taught to prepare simple meals and were provided with information on budgeting and nutrition. As soon as the courses were over, 100 participants completed questionnaires, revealing an immediate improvement in their cooking confidence and a willingness to experiment with new recipes. A year down the line, the researchers contacted 44 people for a repeat interview and came up with encouraging results. Aside from retaining significant confidence in their cooking skills, the class attendees were also found to consume fruit and vegetables on a daily basis as opposed to just a few times a week, as they were doing previously. They also had fewer ready meals on their menu.

Dr Ada Garcia, who led the study, said that the number of participants was small on account of difficulties in re-establishing contact with course attendees after a year had passed. Nevertheless, the interview results demonstrated that programmes of this kind positively affect people's diets, improving their eating habits and health in the longer term, Garcia added.

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