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Cookery classes' 'big impact' on eating habits

Academics flag up Garston social enterprise in calls to Cameron for more support

Published on January 23rd 2012.

Cookery classes' 'big impact' on eating habits

ACADEMICS  are calling for more government support  in improving cooking skills, after a study in Liverpool  showed  the “powerful impact cooking skills can have on healthy eating and lifestyles”. 

The research, by City University London, looked at the work of Can Cook, the social enterprise operating out of the Garston Matchworks.

Can Cook encompasses a number of activities aimed at improving cooking skills, such as cooking classes for both adults and school pupils, as well as a secondary school competition.

The London university’s findings come as little surprise, but whether the logic is followed through in action by ministers is another matter. School cookery classes are now a rarity and ready meal consumption and obesity is up.

The report says: “Key health and lifestyle benefits arising from participation in cooking sessions included increases in both vegetable and fruit consumption, better knowledge about healthy eating and cooking techniques and confidence in handling and preparing food, as well as exposure to new food and tastes.”

Professor Martin Caraher, from the Centre for Food Policy at City University London, says that as well as NHS professionals promoting healthy eating, it is essential that consumers have the skills to create healthy food themselves.

David Cameron Gets Ready To Whisk A SauceDavid Cameron gets ready
to whisk a sauce
“David Cameron was recently quoted as saying that he enjoys cooking with his children, but sadly this is not often the case in many family homes.

"One of the key drivers in the increasing obesity problem is the fact that people are less exposed to situations where they can improve their cooking skills. They have become isolated from food.

"With cooking classes in schools declining, there is a need for the Government to ensure that cooking skills are still on the agenda.

“Ideally health professionals would be able to refer patients to these types of social initiatives that would help people improve their lifestyles.”

 The researchers claim that among participants in the Liverpool secondary school cooking competition there was a significant increase in the number of students eating fruit and vegetables, with a 27.5pc increase in the numbers of pupils eating vegetables four times a day.

Almost one-third said their eating habits had changed since the sessions.

 Robbie Davison, director of Can Cook, says: “The solution is a simple one.  Give children and young people access to good facilities and training and teach them to cook the healthier version of what they know and want to eat and you will get change..”

You can read the report, if you like, here

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