How a 7-Week Food Literacy Cooking Program Affects Cooking Confidence and Mental Health: Findings of a Quasi-Experimental Controlled Intervention Trial

Joanna Rees, Shih Ching Fu, Johnny Lo, Ros Sambell, Joshua R. Lewis, Claus T. Christophersen, Matthew F. Byrne, Robert U. Newton, Siobhan Boyle, Amanda Devine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Obesity and mental health disorders are rising simultaneously with shifting dietary behavior away from home cooking, toward typically nutrition-poor and energy-dense convenience meals. Food literacy strongly influences nutrition choices. Community-based cooking interventions target barriers to healthy eating and facilitate development of food literacy skills, thereby potentially increasing preparation of home-cooked meals and positively influencing health. This study of 657 healthy Australian adults explored the efficacy of a 7-week cooking program in improving cooking confidence, whether this transferred to behavior surrounding food, and/or affected mental health. Significant post-program improvements in cooking confidence and satisfaction (all p < 0.001, (Formula presented.) 1.12 large), ability to change eating habits (p < 0.001) and overcome lifestyle barriers (p = 0.005) were observed for the intervention group but not control. Participation also improved mental and general health (all p < 0.05, (Formula presented.) 0.02 small). No changes were observed for acquisition and consumption of food, or nutrition knowledge in either group. This 7-week cooking program built cooking confidence and improved general and mental health but did not change dietary behavior. To further improve nutrition related behaviors associated with better mental health, more effort is needed to recruit those with below-average nutrition knowledge and interest in cooking.

Original languageEnglish
Article number802940
JournalFrontiers in Nutrition
Volume9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2022

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