The impact of a community-based food skills intervention on cooking confidence, food preparation methods and dietary choices — an exploratory trial

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Abstract

Objective

To evaluate the feasibility of undertaking a food skills intervention study in areas of social deprivation aimed at altering cooking confidence, food preparation methods and dietary choices.

Design

A standardised skills programme was implemented in community-based settings. Pre-(T1) and post-intervention (T2) and 6-month follow-up (T3) measures (7-day diaries and self-administered questionnaires) were undertaken in intervention and comparison groups.

Setting

Eight urban communities in Scotland.

Subjects

One hundred and thirteen adults living in areas of social deprivation.

Results

It was clear that many subjects led fragmented lives and found commitment to intervention classes problematic. Sixty-three subjects completed the final (T3) assessments. The response to each component varied due to inability to attend sessions, illness, study requirements, employment, moving out of the area, change in circumstances, loss of interest and loss of postal questionnaires. At baseline, reported consumption of fruit and vegetables was low (mean frequency 8.1 ± 4.78 times per week). Fruit intake increased significantly (P <0.05) between T1 and T2 in the intervention group (1.7 ± 2.36 to 2.7 ± 3.28 times per week) only. Between T1 and T3, there was a significant increase (P <0.05) in intervention subjects who reported confidence in following a recipe (67–90%,).

Conclusions

This exploratory trial shows that a food skills intervention is likely to have a small but positive effect on food choice and confidence in food preparation. A full-scale randomised controlled trial in this hard-to-reach group would require a range of flexible approaches rather than a fully defined intervention, and presents challenges for trial design.

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