Evaluation of Teen Cuisine: An Extension-Based Cooking Program to Increase Self-efficacy in Teens

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Virginia Tech

Background: Childhood, adolescent, and adult obesity is a major health and economic concern affecting the United States and various countries across the globe. Obese children and adolescents are at a potential risk for developing certain chronic diseases as they transition into adulthood. There are community-based cooking intervention programs designed to increase children and adolescents' intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, whether these programs improve self-efficacy and perceptions related to food and eating behaviors is not currently known.

Objective: The aim of the study was to evaluate the effectiveness of Teen Cuisine, an Extension-based cooking program on self-efficacy with cooking and perceptions of their eating behaviors in a diverse group of adolescents across the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Subjects: Students involved in the 4-H Teen Cuisine Program during the 2013-2015 academic years. Cooking Program: Teen Cuisine is a six-week 90-minute extension-based cooking program created by the Virginia Family Nutrition Program targeting adolescents and teens throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. The program focused on kitchen safety and sanitation, knife skills, food preparation, and nutrition education.

Measures: A survey was used to assess n=531 student's self-efficacy for general nutrition knowledge, food choices, and cooking skills as a result of the 4-H Teen Cuisine Program during the academic year of fall 2013 to spring 2015.

Methods: Surveys were administered upon completion of the Teen Cuisine program to assess students' self-efficacy and perceived gains in kitchen skills, dietary patterns and preferences, and nutrition knowledge.

Results: Teens that self-reported living in rural areas throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia perceived gains (p < 0.05) in an increased consumption of fruits and vegetables. Teens also indicated an increased frequency in cooking and a decrease in their consumption of soda/soft drinks.

Conclusion: Overall Teen Cuisine was found to be effective in improving perceptions of curriculum specific health behaviors, cooking skills, food safety and sanitation, and perceived gains in self-efficacy in the kitchen.

Adolescents, cooking skills, food preparation, healthier food choices, food patterns