Preparing and sharing food: a quantitative analysis of a primary school-based food intervention

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Abstract

Background

Primary schools are increasingly used as arenas for public health initiatives. The aim of this study was to assess a primary school-based food intervention.

Methods

The intervention comprised timetabled kitchen classroom sessions (90 min, fortnightly). Pupils prepared and cooked food, which they then ate together. Children's relationship with food, including food enjoyment, experience and food neophobia, were addressed at the intervention school (baseline n = 154; follow-up n = 164) and at a matched control school (baseline n = 171; follow-up n = 174).

Results

Pupils at the intervention school scored significantly higher (M = 3.90, SD = 1.81) for scores on Kitchen Equipment, compared to the control school (M = 3.06, SD = 2.12); and again scored significantly higher (M = 9.34, SD = 3.79) for the overall Cooking Experience Score compared to the control school (M = 7.98, SD = 4.57). Shifts accompanying the intervention in three outcome measures for pupils (taste description, liking for cooking and helping with cooking at home) were also revealed. No main intervention effect for food neophobia and fussiness was found; a close to significant time by intervention interaction (P = 0.053) was evident.

Conclusions

The study indicates limited but encouraging changes, and contributes to the growing literature regarding school-based food initiatives.

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