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Prevent Childhood Obesity: Learning To Cook Encourages Healthy Eating In Children

First Posted: Nov 29, 2014 02:08 PM EST

Childhood obesity continues to be an epidemic throughout the United States. Yet pinpointing the problem can help to tackle this health issue. New findings published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease: Public Health Research, Practice and Policy, reveal that children who learn to cook and prepare healthier meals can reverse the issue.

"It is important to expose children to healthy foods in a positive way," said Derek Hersch, the lead author of the study who also works with a cooking education program called Food Explorers at the Minnesota Heart Institute Foundation, in a news release. "Creating habits and behaviors at this age is the most important part of it."

For the study, researchers conducted a review of eight studies that examined the effectiveness of cooking education programs, including Food explorers, which teachers children general education about healthy foods as well as how to prepare them. Children who participated in these programs were between the ages of five and 12.

"If you get them involved in cooking, they are 100 percent interested and want to do more-it's amazing," added Sara Haas, a spokesperson with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "We found that it is particularly important to expose kids to healthy foods on a number of occasions. This makes them feel comfortable with the new foods, which helps them build healthy habits."

Study results revealed that the programs helped increase children's intake of fruits, vegetables and dietary fiber. Furthermore, it also helped increase their confidence levels when it came to prepping foods.

Researchers stressed that since these programs are not accessible for everyone, parents should make education their children about healthy foods a top priority.

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