The impact of a community-based food skills intervention on cooking confidence, food preparation methods and dietary choices - an exploratory trial

Wendy L Wrieden, Annie S Anderson, Pat J Longbottom, Karen Valentine, Martine Stead, Martin Caraher, Tim Lang, Bill Gray, Elizabeth Dowler
Public Health Nutrition 2007, 10 (2): 203-11

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the feasibility of undertaking a food skills intervention study in areas of social deprivation aimed at altering cooking confidence, food preparation methods and dietary choices.

DESIGN: A standardised skills programme was implemented in community-based settings. Pre- (T1) and post-intervention (T2) and 6-month follow-up (T3) measures (7-day diaries and self-administered questionnaires) were undertaken in intervention and comparison groups.

SETTING: Eight urban communities in Scotland.

SUBJECTS: One hundred and thirteen adults living in areas of social deprivation.

RESULTS: It was clear that many subjects led fragmented lives and found commitment to intervention classes problematic. Sixty-three subjects completed the final (T3) assessments. The response to each component varied due to inability to attend sessions, illness, study requirements, employment, moving out of the area, change in circumstances, loss of interest and loss of postal questionnaires. At baseline, reported consumption of fruit and vegetables was low (mean frequency 8.1 +/- 4.78 times per week). Fruit intake increased significantly (P < 0.05) between T1 and T2 in the intervention group (1.7 +/- 2.36 to 2.7 +/- 3.28 times per week) only. Between T1 and T3, there was a significant increase (P < 0.05) in intervention subjects who reported confidence in following a recipe (67-90%,).

CONCLUSIONS: This exploratory trial shows that a food skills intervention is likely to have a small but positive effect on food choice and confidence in food preparation. A full-scale randomised controlled trial in this hard-to-reach group would require a range of flexible approaches rather than a fully defined intervention, and presents challenges for trial design.

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