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Teaching children to cook found pivotal in their ability to make healthy food choices

by: Raw Michelle, July 11, 2012

While it's obvious that children (and even adults) who like fruits and vegetables are more likely to eat them, researchers are trying to identify the pivotal variable that causes individuals to like them.

The study comes from Alberta, Canada, where researchers conducted a province-wide study on the eating habits of students in the fifth grade. Students from over 150 schools were surveyed, in an attempt to appraise the eating patterns that were being established so early in life. The survey asked about the children's eating habits, food preferences, and experience with preparing foods.

Knowing good from bad isn't enough

The study's lead author, Dr. Yen Li Chu, of the School of Public Health, suggests that a way to combat the growing problems of childhood and adult obesity, and chronic diet-mediated illnesses, would be to engage children, both at home, and in school, in the preparation of meals. Chu went on to suggest that the inclusion of culinary education in the normal school curriculum could be beneficial in supplementing the knowledge they may or may not be gaining at home.

Familiarity with foods in their raw forms will increase children's perception of a particular item as a food choice. Food preparation is a kind of cultural knowledge that is learned and passed down from generation to generation. Without knowing how to turn an ingredient into food, the food is effectively inaccessible. Lack of background and familiarity is one of the main variables that prevents food choices from being used.

Teaching children not just to feed themselves, but to feed themselves well

Study shows that children who are more involved in the cooking process demonstrate a greater inclination towards consuming healthier food choices, and far more whole foods. One in three children indicated that they assisted with the preparation of at least one meal each day. Another third of all children surveyed indicated that they still participated in the kitchen, but less often - between one and three times in a given week. Fewer than 13 percent of children had no experience in the kitchen.

As was expected, children overall preferred fruits to vegetables, but an important pattern arose in the variation of this preference. Children who regularly assisted in kitchen activities both ate, and enjoyed, both fruits and vegetables more. They were also able to more assuredly communicate the value of these choices, indicating that over the natural course of food preparation, children were not just being taught how to cook, but also being taught an important lesson about the benefits of health-positive choices.

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/036430_children_healthy_food_cooking.html#ixz...