A University of Alberta study shows that kids who lend a helping hand in the kitchen are more likely to enjoy eating fruits and vegetables.
Yen Li Chu and Paul Veugelers conducted the survey with Grade 5 students in 150 schools across Alberta, and found that students that helped out in the kitchen at home were 10 per cent more likely to eat fruits and vegetables than students who stayed out of the kitchen.
“We know that kids who likes fruits and vegetables are then more likely to eat more of those foods. (Cooking) is a way to show their appreciation for healthier foods and could be a way to get them to eat more,” said Chu.
The data also found that about one-third of children helped with meals at least once a day, while another third said they helped one to three times a week.
Just over 12 per cent said they avoided the kitchen completely.
Jayda Gregg-Way, a Grade 2 student at Brightview School in west-central Edmonton, is a budding chef and said she has started to eat more fruits in vegetables since she started cooking three years ago.
“I like to cook because it’s fun, and you get to try new things,” she said, adding that some of her favourite snacks include strawberries, carrot muffins and mac and cheese with cauliflower.
Brightview School is also part of APPLE Schools, a U of A initiative that promotes healthy eating and active lifestyles.
Erin Whelen, a Grade 2 teacher, helps facilitates cooking classes in the school that focuses on using fresh, healthy ingredients.
This is the first year Brightview has been an APPLE School, and already Whelen said she’s noticing a big difference.
“It’s a chance for us to bring some kids into the kitchen to give them the opportunity to learn some new skills that they could take home and share with their family and become more involved in the food processes that go on in their household,” she said.
“It’s definitely making a difference. Kids are excited about the nutritious food they bring in their lunch.”
The study by Chu and Veugelers was published last month in Public Health Nutrition.