In this post I report on the collaborative work reported by global food and nutrition researchers at the University of Newcastle’s Virtual Nutrition and Cooking Education Symposium held in June 2020.

More and more, researchers recognise that cooking skills develop from an early age.  In addition to engaging and supporting parents to shop and cook for their families through cooking program community interventions, I was particularly interested in the research findings reported by researchers who focused on engaging children in cooking interventions in schools.  Most of these interventions focused on children in primary schools to get a head start on introducing as well as reinforcing health food behaviours.

Innovative researchers used gamification ideas to generate interest and engagement in the learning. Here are two examples of the work from Nienke de Vlieger and Berit Follong.

Vita Village – a tablet-based educational game, aimed at teaching children about nutrition through play developed as part of Nienke de Vlieger’s  PhD thesis

I particularly liked the cross-curriculum links made between Mathematics and Food in the CUPS program – such complementary areas that synergistically build on shared skills in practical and cognitive skill development.

The CUPS programtargets this barrier by integrating nutrition with mathematics and thereby supporting the learning of both subjects. It involves an experiential approach using mathematics cubes and food models to engage students. In particular, students will be able to learn about portion size, food groups, volume and measurement” says researcher Berit Follong

Presentations focusing on cooking skills interventions included:-

Guidelines for designing age-appropriate children’s cooking interventions: the development of evidence-based cooking recommendations for children, a multidisciplinary approach – Prof Moira Dean

The Devil is in the detail: an effective co-creative multidisciplinary strategy to content development for children’s cooking interventions – Dr Fiona Lavelle

 Measuring success – the need for validated measures in cooking skills and nutrition education – Dr Tony Benson

Development of the Home-Cooking EnviRonment and equipment Inventory Observation Form (Home- CookERITM): an assessment of content validity, face validity and inter-rater agreement – Ms Sonja Schönberg

 Preconception, pregnancy and postpartum interventions with a culinary education: A Systematic Review – Dr Rachael Taylor

 Cook-EdTM: A model to guide the planning, development and evaluation of domestic cooking education programs – Ms Roberta Asher

For a full list of the presenters, their Abstracts and outline of the presentations, you can access the program symposium notes document here CookingSkillsProjects_SymposiumNotes_June2020