The Impact of Culinary Skills Training on the Dietary Attitudes and Behaviors of Children and Parents


Background: Summer camps can serve as a modality for dietary interventions. However, camp-based strategies that improve dietary behaviors of children are unclear. Poor diet disproportionately affects low-income and minority children, making the examination of camp-based dietary interventions an important focus. Purpose: To assess the impact of a camp's culinary skills sessions on perceptions of child involvement in meal preparation and changes in attitudes and self-efficacy related to cooking. Methods: A mixed-methods design with quantitative pre–post assessments and interviews. Results: Parents positively received the program, especially lessons on kitchen safety. Participants and parents highlighted the camp's focus on healthy eating as important. They also noted increases in participants' enjoyment of cooking, willingness to try new foods, and culinary abilities. Quantitative data showed increases in participants' frequency of involvement in home meal preparation and self-efficacy for culinary skills. Discussion: Incorporating hands-on, culinary training in a summer camp aimed at low-income, minority children was feasible and well accepted, and showed improvements in dietary behaviors. Future studies should focus on increasing parent involvement and incorporating take-home lessons. Translation to Health Education Practice: Hands-on, culinary skills training should be incorporated into camps aimed at dietary change to increase children's self-efficacy and potentially influence home food environments.

Publication Title

American Journal of Health Education