Public Health Nutrition

HOT TOPIC – Parenting and cooking

Evaluation of a cooking skills programme in parents of young children – a longitudinal study  

Ada L Garciaa1 c1, Elisa Vargasa1, Po S Lama1, David B Shennana2, Fiona Smitha3 and Alison Parretta1

a1 Department of Human Nutrition, School of Medicine, College of Medical, Veterinary & Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Yorkhill Hospitals, Glasgow G3 8SJ, UK

a2 Department of Public Health, NHS Ayrshire & Arran, Ailsa Hospital Ayr KA6 6AB

a3 Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, NHS Ayrshire & Arran, Kirklandside Hospital, Kilmarnock, UK


Objective To evaluate longitudinally the effectiveness of a cooking programme on self-reported confidence about cooking skills and food consumption patterns in parents of young children.

Design An evaluation of cooking programmes delivered by National Health Service (NHS) community food workers using a single group pre-test/post-test repeated measures design. A shortened version of a validated questionnaire at baseline, post intervention and 1-year follow-up determined confidence in cooking using basic ingredients, following a simple recipe, tasting new foods, preparing and cooking new foods on consumption of ready meals, vegetables and fruit.

Setting Deprived communities in Ayrshire and Arran, Scotland.

Subjects Parents of nursery age children, 97 % were female and <45 years old.

Results One hundred and two participants had completed baseline and post-intervention questionnaires. Forty-four participants contacted by telephone completed a follow-up questionnaire. In participants who completed all questionnaires (n 44), median confidence in four aspects of cooking increased significantly from baseline to post intervention (P < 0·001) but was retained at 1-year follow-up only for following a simple recipe and preparing and cooking new foods. Improved food consumption patterns were reported from baseline to post intervention (ready-meal consumption reduced from 2-4 times/week to 1 time/week, P < 0·001; vegetable consumption increased from 5–6 times/week to 1 time/d, P < 0·001; fruit consumption increased from 5–6 times/week to 1 time/d, P < 0·001) and remained at 1-year follow-up.

Conclusions The cooking programmes appeared to improve cooking confidence and food consumption patterns in the target group and some of these changes were retained after 1 year.

(Received July 04 2012)

(Revised December 20 2012)

(Accepted January 03 2013)

(Online publication November 19 2013)


  • One-year follow-up;
  • Cooking confidence;
  • Food knowledge;
  • Healthy eating;
  • Deprivation


c1 Corresponding author: Email


  The original version of this article was published with an incorrect list of authors. A notice detailing this has been published and the error rectified in the online and print PDF and HTML copies.