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Kids who cook hungrier for healthy food choices
Date:6/27/2012

(Edmonton) Getting kids to pass up junk food in favour of healthier fruits and veggies has led to many a mealtime meltdown for parents everywhere. Now, researchers from the University of Alberta offer a simple solution: give them an apron.

A provincewide survey of Grade 5 students in Alberta suggests the best way to get your child to eat healthier foodsand actually enjoy themis to have them help with meal preparation.

"Kids who like fruits and vegetables more tend to eat them more frequently and have better diets," said lead author Yen Li Chu, a post-doctoral fellow in the School of Public Health. "These data show that encouraging kids to get involved in meal preparation could be an effective health promotion strategy for schools and parents."

Published last month by Public Health Nutrition in an early online release, the study involved a survey of students in 151 schools across Alberta to learn about kids' experiences with cooking and food choices.

Nearly one-third of children reported helping with meal prep at least once a day; another one-third said they helped one to three times a week. A quarter of children helped once a month, and 12.4 per cent avoided the kitchen completely.

In general, children preferred fruits to veggies, but children who helped with cooking showed a greater preference for both. Vegetable preference was also 10 per cent higher among children who helped cook.

The data also showed that kids who did meal prep and cooking were more confident about the importance of making healthier food choices.

Paul Veugelers, co-author and Canada Research Chair in Population Health at the U of A, said getting children to eat healthier food promotes bone and muscle development, learning and self-esteem.

"Good food is important for us. It keeps weight gain awayand more important than that, it keeps chronic disease away," Veugelers said. "The overarching objective of our work is
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Contact: Bryan Alary
bryan.alary@ualberta.ca
780-492-0436
University of Alberta
Source:Eurekalert

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