Evaluation of a school-based nutrition and food preparation skills intervention delivered to schoolchildren from deprived social backgrounds
Changes to the Technology content of the National Curriculum means that the teaching of cooking skills at secondary school is decreasing to make room for the delivery of the industrial design process. The impact of the decline in the teaching of cooking skills to children in school is likely to be greater upon lower income groups who consume the poorest quality diet. This controlled study evaluated the impact upon the intake of foods and nutrients of socially deprived children aged 11-13-years-old, following attendance to a dietary intervention delivered in the form of an after-school Food Club. The Food Club aimed to teach cooking skills using inexpensive, healthful ingredients and basic equipment. Ten secondary schools (five intervention group, five control) in Tyne and Wear were recruited and 167 children completed two 3-day food records and a nutrition knowledge questionnaire at baseline and post-intervention. Children in the intervention group only were invited to attend twenty Food Club sessions. It was found that: The Food Club did not impact upon nutrient intake in children in the intervention group above that of the control The Food Club did have a positive impact upon the intake of fruit and vegetables of boys in the intervention group The percentage of energy derived from non-milk extrinsic sugars exceeded the current UK DRV at 18% at baseline and 15% at post-intervention * Non-diet carbonated soft drinks accounted for between 8-11% of MEI It is concluded that whilst the Food Club did not impact upon the diets of the children it did have a positive effect upon fruit and vegetable intake in boys. The teaching of food and specifically cooking skills in the National Curriculum appears to have an insecure future. Extra-curricular Food Clubs can contribute to the public health initiative to address inequality of diet.