• An evaluation of an educational intervention aimed at improving confidence, knowledge and skill of university students to cook

      Ellahi, Basma; Bristow, Lloyd (University of Chester, 2010-03)
      Introduction - It is well documented that first year university students, often away from home for the first time, have poor dietary habits which are widely accepted to contribute to serious health problems. Research suggests improving confidence, skill and knowledge to cook healthily is important to facilitate healthier eating behaviours amongst the student population. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of the educational intervention, Can’t cook, don’t cook on the confidence, skill and knowledge of first year students from the University of Chester to cook healthy foods. Method - Students were recruited to take part in the intervention through the use of posters and flyers. The intervention comprised of three practical cooking sessions that included some classroom-based learning. Those who attended the intervention were asked to participate in the evaluation research, 14 males and 30 females doing so. The evaluation consisted of the completion of two questionnaires, pre- and post-intervention, measuring self-reported confidence, skill and knowledge to cook healthy food. Results - There were significant increases in all aspects of confidence, skill and knowledge from participating in the intervention except for transport access to supermarkets. Students reported achieving five portions of fruit and vegetables a day more frequently post-intervention and there was also a positive increase in the confidence of using various cooking methods post-intervention compared to pre-intervention. There were little differences between genders, the only significant difference was that of females that attaching more importance to healthy eating prior to the intervention that their male counterparts (p=0.003). Conclusion - Participation in the intervention increased the confidence, basic skill and knowledge in university students equipping them with the tools to buy and cook cheap, healthy meals for themselves. A healthier, well balanced diet can help to eliminate the risk of poor health and the onset of disease that literature implies students are at risk of. Although there are many barriers to healthy eating students living in university halls of residence face, engaging, hands-on cooking sessions for this population can help to overcome some of them. The effectiveness of a nutrition educational intervention for university students was demonstrated regardless of their age, gender and degree programme and is a recommendable method to improve the eating behaviours in this group.