cookingclassGovernment-funded parent cooking classes are having a major impact on pre-school children's health in Scotland according to a new survey.

Questioning of nearly half of the parents who took part in a 4-8 week class on budgeting, nutrition and cooking simple meals showed they ate more fruit & vegetables and fewer ready meals a year later.

Study leader Dr Ada Garcia said that, although the study numbers were small due to difficulties in re-contacting people after a year, the results showed that such programmes had a measurable effect on people's diets.

"It is very encouraging that we have these positive results," she said. "This suggests that the intervention has benefited participants' eating habits and health not only in the short-term, but also in the long-term."

Researchers said that participants were also more confident about following a simple recipe, while refresher courses would boost the effects further.

Similar courses aimed at parents from several age-groups are being run by many local councils in England including Bucks and Sussex, but until now there has been little data on any long-term effects.

Therefore this study asked parents of children aged two to five about their confidence in cooking, preparing and trying new foods immediately after the course and one year down the line.

However, some of the "confidence scores" in cooking and trying new foods had slipped after a year and Prof Alan Mayron-Davis believes annual refresher courses would be useful.

"Budgets are being cut and local authorities are not going to fund stuff unless its been shown to be effective," he said. "But this is pretty encouraging. It is particularly important to get these changes happening in young families."

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Posted 18/02/2013 by richard.hook@pavpub.com