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Stanford Medicine

Nutrition, Obesity, Pediatrics

Can cooking classes help curb childhood obesity?

Should healthy eating be incorporated into elementary school curriculum? A new study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior shows that having cooking classes alongside subjects such as math and science may promote healthier eating habits as well as curb the childhood obesity epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of obese children in the United States has more than doubled during the past three decades.

Researchers at Colorado State University Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition wanted to find out whether nutrition education had any positive effect on students. Using the Cooking with Kids program as a model, they interviewed 178 fourth graders to evaluate children’s attitudes towards cooking and experiences at school and home following a series of cooking plus tasting or just tasting classes alone. According to a release:

Students and their teachers who participated in both types of experiential classes described positive experiences with curriculum integration into academic subjects, and those receiving cooking classes reported opportunities to enhance their social skills. The study also found that students in cooking plus tasting schools did not perceive cooking-related tasks at home as ‘chores’, unlike students who received just tasting classes or those who did not receive either type of class. And, in general, students’ perspectives were that the curriculum strengthened their understanding of the content of school subjects.

Leslie Cunningham-Sabo, PhD, RD, says that integrating nutrition education into the classroom will teach kids to eat healthy foods at a young age, which will help them develop healthy eating patterns for life. “It documents the importance of including cooking in school curriculum as it is a practical mechanism to promote health, social and educational skills to better prepare students for adulthood.”

Previously: Are lunches brought from home or purchased at school more nutritious?, How should pediatricians talk about obesity?, Children and obesity: What can parents do to help?, How to combat childhood obesity? Try everything, Study shows federal school lunch program doesn’t make the grade and School nutrition standards come into the 21st century
Photo by Collin Parker

2 Responses to “ Can cooking classes help curb childhood obesity? ”

  1. Mar Says:

    Yes, cooking classes will help and so will involving them in any food preparations at home or even as simple as watching cooking shows with them. Everytime I cook, I always explain to my kids the advantages and disadvantages of ingredients I use, like salt for example. I have three young children, all under 7 years old, and now they’re even the one reminding me that I already had too much cholocate for the day =)

  2. Jr. Champion Chef's Says:

    I truly believe that teaching our children on how to prepare foods properly is a skill they will utilize for the rest of their lives and is extremely important. In today’s world prepackaged meals are the #1 bought item in most families. Most families are very busy taking their children to afterschool sports and want a quick meal or snack for their kids. Oftentimes, they are full of preservatives and dyes. There are not many skills that are able to be used everyday such as cooking. Children love the cooking classes and can’t wait to come back. They leave feeling accomplished and confident to cook in their kitchen! It should definitely become a requirement in the school curriculum!

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