Culinary efficacy: An exploratory study of skills, confidence, and healthy cooking competencies among university students

Douglas Murray, Meena Mahadevan, Kelsey Gatto, Kaitlyn O'Connor, Alexis Fissinger, Dylan Bailey, Eric Cassara

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Aims: This study was conducted to determine whether a group of college-age students in New Jersey, USA, had the requisite culinary skills, knowledge, and confidence to take personal control of their meal planning and production. The long-term threat to the public health systems posed by high rates of obesity among young adults in higher education institutions has garnered widespread attention across the world. Studies have shown that assuming personal responsibility over preparing and consuming food can play a key role in addressing the problem of poor nutrient intakes. Methods: Focus groups were conducted with students (N = 24) who fit the eligibility criteria of not having a university meal plan, and living independently at the time of the study (not with family members). The sessions were recorded, transcribed, and then coded into themes. Two trained research assistants tested the results and inter-rater reliability was confirmed. Results: Content analysis revealed three major themes: Health Perceptions, Life influences, and Barriers to Cooking and Eating Healthy. The students' comments indicated that while they had a basic knowledge of the key principles of eating a balanced diet, it may not have necessarily translated into actual food choices and cooking practices. Several students reported an overreliance on processed and prepared foods, and they consumed few fruits and vegetables. Conclusions: Factors such as lack of culinary knowledge and skill, financial instability, inadequate access to healthy food options, and other time/lifestyle constraints may have played a significant role in limiting their ability to prepare and consume healthy meals. The findings of this study highlight the importance of designing programmes with effective strategies to motivate and encourage college students to improve their food behaviours and practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-151
Number of pages9
JournalPerspectives in Public Health
Volume136
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016

Fingerprint

Cooking
Students
Food
Meals
Aptitude
Time and Motion Studies
Focus Groups
Vegetables
Life Style
Young Adult
Fruit
Public Health
Age Groups
Obesity
Eating
Diet
Education
Health
Research

Keywords

  • culinary confidence
  • culinary skill
  • nutrition
  • public health
  • university students

Cite this

Murray, Douglas ; Mahadevan, Meena ; Gatto, Kelsey ; O'Connor, Kaitlyn ; Fissinger, Alexis ; Bailey, Dylan ; Cassara, Eric. / Culinary efficacy : An exploratory study of skills, confidence, and healthy cooking competencies among university students. In: Perspectives in Public Health. 2016 ; Vol. 136, No. 3. pp. 143-151.
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Culinary efficacy : An exploratory study of skills, confidence, and healthy cooking competencies among university students. / Murray, Douglas; Mahadevan, Meena; Gatto, Kelsey; O'Connor, Kaitlyn; Fissinger, Alexis; Bailey, Dylan; Cassara, Eric.

In: Perspectives in Public Health, Vol. 136, No. 3, 01.01.2016, p. 143-151.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

TY - JOUR

T1 - Culinary efficacy

T2 - An exploratory study of skills, confidence, and healthy cooking competencies among university students

AU - Murray, Douglas

AU - Mahadevan, Meena

AU - Gatto, Kelsey

AU - O'Connor, Kaitlyn

AU - Fissinger, Alexis

AU - Bailey, Dylan

AU - Cassara, Eric

PY - 2016/1/1

Y1 - 2016/1/1

N2 - Aims: This study was conducted to determine whether a group of college-age students in New Jersey, USA, had the requisite culinary skills, knowledge, and confidence to take personal control of their meal planning and production. The long-term threat to the public health systems posed by high rates of obesity among young adults in higher education institutions has garnered widespread attention across the world. Studies have shown that assuming personal responsibility over preparing and consuming food can play a key role in addressing the problem of poor nutrient intakes. Methods: Focus groups were conducted with students (N = 24) who fit the eligibility criteria of not having a university meal plan, and living independently at the time of the study (not with family members). The sessions were recorded, transcribed, and then coded into themes. Two trained research assistants tested the results and inter-rater reliability was confirmed. Results: Content analysis revealed three major themes: Health Perceptions, Life influences, and Barriers to Cooking and Eating Healthy. The students' comments indicated that while they had a basic knowledge of the key principles of eating a balanced diet, it may not have necessarily translated into actual food choices and cooking practices. Several students reported an overreliance on processed and prepared foods, and they consumed few fruits and vegetables. Conclusions: Factors such as lack of culinary knowledge and skill, financial instability, inadequate access to healthy food options, and other time/lifestyle constraints may have played a significant role in limiting their ability to prepare and consume healthy meals. The findings of this study highlight the importance of designing programmes with effective strategies to motivate and encourage college students to improve their food behaviours and practices.

AB - Aims: This study was conducted to determine whether a group of college-age students in New Jersey, USA, had the requisite culinary skills, knowledge, and confidence to take personal control of their meal planning and production. The long-term threat to the public health systems posed by high rates of obesity among young adults in higher education institutions has garnered widespread attention across the world. Studies have shown that assuming personal responsibility over preparing and consuming food can play a key role in addressing the problem of poor nutrient intakes. Methods: Focus groups were conducted with students (N = 24) who fit the eligibility criteria of not having a university meal plan, and living independently at the time of the study (not with family members). The sessions were recorded, transcribed, and then coded into themes. Two trained research assistants tested the results and inter-rater reliability was confirmed. Results: Content analysis revealed three major themes: Health Perceptions, Life influences, and Barriers to Cooking and Eating Healthy. The students' comments indicated that while they had a basic knowledge of the key principles of eating a balanced diet, it may not have necessarily translated into actual food choices and cooking practices. Several students reported an overreliance on processed and prepared foods, and they consumed few fruits and vegetables. Conclusions: Factors such as lack of culinary knowledge and skill, financial instability, inadequate access to healthy food options, and other time/lifestyle constraints may have played a significant role in limiting their ability to prepare and consume healthy meals. The findings of this study highlight the importance of designing programmes with effective strategies to motivate and encourage college students to improve their food behaviours and practices.

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