Cooking in the classroom to fight childhood obesity

November 8, 2011

Based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other reports that childhood obesity has tripled over the past 30 years, we recognize the importance of reaching our children early to form good food habits. However, with teachers having to incorporate more and more learning standards into their already packed curriculums, where does that leave room for nutrition education in elementary schools? Perhaps by putting it into school subjects like geography and the study of other cultures, math, and science. A study in the November/December 2011 issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior shows how the Cooking with Kids program successfully helps students learn school subjects and develop cooking skills.

Cooking with Kids is an experiential food and for elementary school , based on social learning theory and food acceptance principles (http://www.cookingwithkids.net). Students explore, prepare, and enjoy fresh, affordable foods from diverse cultural traditions. Founder and executive director Lynn Walters and program director Jane Stacey have developed integrated curriculum materials for grades K-1, 2-3, and 4-6. Cooking with Kids also encourages students to treat each other respectfully and to practice the social skills of working together to prepare a meal and then sitting down to eat together.

As part of a larger evaluation of the program, investigators from the Colorado State University Department of Food Science and interviewed 178 fourth-graders to determine students' cooking attitudes and experiences at school and home after a series of cooking plus tasting or just tasting classes alone. Their teachers and Cooking with Kids food educators were also interviewed. 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.

Dr. Leslie Cunningham-Sabo, PhD, RD, Assistant Professor at Colorado State University, says, "This study describes student and teacher perceptions about the integration of nutrition education programs with academic curriculum topics, which is essential in justifying nutrition education's continued place in the school curriculum. 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."

Explore further: Study: College students not eating enough fruits and veggies

More information: The article is "Qualitative Investigation of the Cooking with Kids Program: Focus Group Interviews with Fourth-Grade Students, Teachers, and Food Educators" by Catherine V. Lukas, MS, RD and Leslie Cunningham-Sabo, PhD, RD. It appears in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, Volume 43, Issue 6 (November/December 2011)

Related Stories

Study: College students not eating enough fruits and veggies

August 17, 2011
College students aren't eating enough fruits and vegetables – in fact, a new study shows students aren't even eating one serving per day, far from the recommended five daily servings.

Recommended for you

Study finds 275,000 calls to poison control centers for dietary supplement exposures from 2000 through 2012

July 24, 2017
U.S. Poison Control Centers receive a call every 24 minutes, on average, regarding dietary supplement exposures, according to a new study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center, ...

Alcohol to claim 63,000 lives over next five years, experts warn

July 24, 2017
Alcohol consumption will cause 63,000 deaths in England over the next five years – the equivalent of 35 deaths a day – according to a new report from the University of Sheffield Alcohol Research Group.

App lets patients work alone or with others to prevent, monitor, and reverse chronic disease

July 24, 2017
Lack of patient adherence to treatment plans is a lingering, costly problem in the United States. But MIT Media Lab spinout Twine Health is proving that regular interventions from a patient's community of supporters can greatly ...

Alcohol boosts recall of earlier learning

July 24, 2017
Drinking alcohol improves memory for information learned before the drinking episode began, new research suggests.

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Why sugary drinks and protein-rich meals don't go well together

July 20, 2017
Having a sugar-sweetened drink with a high-protein meal may negatively affect energy balance, alter food preferences and cause the body to store more fat, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Nutrition.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.