(Cover) – EN Fitness & Wellbeing – Teens who are talented in the kitchen are more likely to eat healthier meals as they get older.

With the rise of fast food chains and the decline of cooking classes in schools, less children know how to prepare a nutritionally balanced plate of food at home. And a new study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior has emphasised the importance of getting kids to grips with cooking for the sake of their future nutritional wellbeing.

The researchers collected data as part of the Project Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults longitudinal study, which was conducted in schools throughout the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area of the United States.

Participants between the ages of 18 to 23 reported on the adequacy of their cooking skills in 2002-2003, and were then quizzed again in 2015-2016 when the group had reached 30 to 35 years old. After examining the amount of vegetables included in daily meals, how often participants ate as a family, and how often they ate at a fast food restaurant, the team learned that those who described their cooking skills as ‘adequate’ between the ages of 18 and 23 cooked more meals using vegetables, dined more frequently with their families, and ate less fast food.

“The impact of developing cooking skills early in life may not be apparent until later in adulthood when individuals have more opportunity and responsibility for meal preparation,” said lead author Jennifer Utter from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. “Opportunities to develop cooking skills by adolescents may result in long-term benefits for nutritional well-being.”

Jennifer urged families, educators and health professionals to invest in home economics and cooking education so all children have the opportunity to learn the necessary skills.

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