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Cooking Up Energy: A Culinary Education Program for Children with Parent Outreach

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Objectives: Culinary interventions show promise in preventing obesity. The Cooking Up Energy (CUE) program aimed to improve weight status and attitudes held about healthy foods, as well as increase cooking self-efficacy and frequency of meal preparation, in children 6-12 years of age. Methods: We provided 10 one-hour long culinary and nutrition education sessions. We took pre- and post-program surveys along with height, weight, and waist circumference measurements. We invited parents to 2 evening sessions. We analyzed results for the entire group, and a subgroup of children who were overweight or obese at baseline. Results: We analyzed matched data (N = 65; 52% female; >60% minority; 43% overweight or obese). Mean BMI percentile and BMI z-score did not change significantly following program completion. However, BMI z-score in those who were overweight or obese, remained favorably constant, rather than rising. We found an increase in participation in meal preparation for all meals, along with robust attendance and favorable program evaluations. Participant cooking self-efficacy and attitudes remained largely unchanged. Conclusion: Favorable results for several factors were evident; however, they did not reach statistical significance. The program holds promise in influencing food-related behaviors that can buffer obesity risk in children; however these findings warrant further investigation.
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Keywords: CHILD HEALTH; COOKING SKILLS; HEALTH PROMOTION; OBESITY; WEIGHT MANAGEMENT

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Associate Professor, Long Island University/Post, Department of Biomedical, Health and Nutritional Sciences, Brookville, NY;, Email: [email protected] 2: Assistant Professor, State University of New York Old Westbury, Department of Politics, Economics and Law, Old Westbury, NY

Publication date: September 1, 2020

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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