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Learning how to Cook can Encourage Healthy Eating in Children, Study Reports

Update Date: Nov 28, 2014 09:06 AM EST

To prevent childhood obesity, children need to learn how to eat better. Instead of simply putting healthier foods on their plates hoping that they will eat them, a new study is reporting that getting children involved with cooking can encourage them to eat healthier. The team added that learning how to cook could also help them develop healthy eating habits for life.

"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. "Creating habits and behaviors at this age is the most important part of it."

The researchers conducted a review of eight studies that examined the effectiveness of cooking education programs, such as Food Explorers, which taught 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," explained Sara Haas, a spokesperson with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, reported by Medical Xpress.

Hersch added, "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."

Overall, the team concluded that these programs increased children's intake of fruits, vegetables and dietary fiber. Children also exhibited an increase in their confidence level when it came to prepping foods. Hersch stressed that since these programs are not accessible for everyone, parents should make educating their children about healthy foods one of their priorities.

The study was published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Preventing Chronic Disease: Public Health Research, Practice and Policy.

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