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Learning cooking skills at different ages: a cross-sectional study

Lavelle, F, Spence, M, Hollywood, L, McGowan, L, Surgenor, D, McCloat, A, Mooney, E, Caraher, Martin, Raats, Monique and Dean, M (2016) Learning cooking skills at different ages: a cross-sectional study International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 13 (119).

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Background Cooking skills are increasingly included in strategies to prevent and reduce chronic diet-related diseases and obesity. While cooking interventions target all age groups (Child, Teen and Adult), the optimal age for learning these skills on: 1) skills retention, 2) cooking practices, 3) cooking attitudes, 4) diet quality and 5) health is unknown. Similarly, although the source of learning cooking skills has been previously studied, the differences in learning from these different sources has not been considered. This research investigated the associations of the age and source of learning with the aforementioned five factors. Methods A nationally representative (Northern/Republic of Ireland) cross-sectional survey was undertaken with 1049 adults aged between 20–60 years. The survey included both measures developed and tested by the researchers as well as validated measures of cooking (e.g. chopping) and food skills (e.g. budgeting), cooking practices (e.g. food safety), cooking attitudes, diet quality and health. Respondents also stated when they learnt the majority of their skills and their sources of learning. The data was analysed using ANOVAs with post-hoc analysis and Chi2 crosstabs with a significance level of 0.05. Results Results showed that child (<12 years) and/or teen (13–18 years) learners had significantly greater numbers of, and confidence in, their cooking and food skills, cooking practices, cooking attitudes, diet quality (with the exception of fibre intake where adult learners were higher) and health. Mother was the primary source of learning and those who learnt only from this source had significantly better outcomes on 12 of the 23 measures. Conclusions This research highlights the importance of learning cooking skills at an early age for skill retention, confidence, cooking practices, cooking attitude and diet quality. Mother remained the primary source of learning, however, as there is a reported deskilling of domestic cooks, mothers may no longer have the ability to teach cooking skills to the next generation. A focus on alternative sources including practical cooking skills education starting at an early age is required. This study also highlights the need for further longitudinal research on the impact of age and source of learning on cooking skills.

Item Type: Article
Subjects : Economics
Divisions : Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences > School of Psychology
Authors :
Lavelle, F
Spence, M
Hollywood, L
McGowan, L
Surgenor, D
McCloat, A
Mooney, E
Dean, M
Date : 14 November 2016
DOI : 10.1186/s12966-016-0446-y
Copyright Disclaimer : © The Author(s). 2016 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Uncontrolled Keywords : Learning Cooking skills Child Teenager Adult Source Diet quality Disease prevention
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 05 Apr 2017 11:15
Last Modified : 16 Jan 2019 17:13

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