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Appetite. 2016 Aug 1;103:275-285. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2016.04.031. Epub 2016 Apr 26.

Involving children in cooking activities: A potential strategy for directing food choices toward novel foods containing vegetables.

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Basque Culinary Center, Paseo Juan Avelino Barriola, 101, 20009 San Sebastián, Spain. Electronic address:
Basque Culinary Center, Paseo Juan Avelino Barriola, 101, 20009 San Sebastián, Spain.


Involving children in cooking has been suggested as a strategy to improve dietary habits in childhood. Interventions in schools including cooking, gardening and tasting activities have showed promising results. Several cross-sectional surveys demonstrated associations between frequency of involvement in food preparation and better diet quality. However, experimental studies confirming the beneficial effect of cooking on food choices in children are missing from the literature. The objective of the present study was to assess the effect of involving children in cooking on their willingness to taste novel foods, food intake, liking and hunger. A between-subject experiment was conducted with 137 children between 7 and 11 years old. 69 children (COOK group) participated in the preparation of three unfamiliar foods containing vegetables: apple/beetroot juice, zucchini tortilla sandwich and spinach cookies. 68 children (CONTROL group) participated, instead, in a creative workshop. Afterwards, the children were invited to choose, for an afternoon snack, between three familiar vs. unfamiliar foods: orange vs. apple/beetroot juice, potato vs. zucchini tortilla sandwich and chocolate vs. spinach cookie. The mean number of unfamiliar foods chosen per child was higher in the COOK vs. CONTROL group (P = 0.037). The overall willingness to taste the unfamiliar foods was also higher in the COOK group (P = 0.011). The liking for the whole afternoon snack (P = 0.034), for 2 of 3 unfamiliar foods and for 1 of 3 familiar foods was higher in the COOK group (P < 0.05). We did not demonstrate any difference between the two groups in overall food intake and hunger/satiety scores. This study demonstrated that involving children in cooking can increase their willingness to taste novel foods and direct food choices towards foods containing vegetables.


Appetite; Children; Cooking; Food choices; Food neophobia; Vegetables

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