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Busy lifestyles mean that young people might not be learning enough food skills to stay healthy

A new report by safefood has noted clear evidence that food skills, such as cooking and budgeting for meals, has an impact on health.

A NEW STUDY has found that young generations may not be learning sufficient food skills to prepare health meals for themselves, potentially leading to an over-reliance on pre-prepared meals.

This isn’t limited to cooking, but includes a range of factors such as shopping and food safety.

“There is clear evidence that developing our food skills can influence healthy eating behaviours”  Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, Director of Human Health and Nutrition at safefood said.

What we all need are the food skills to plan tasty, quick meals, and these skills can range from preparing a shopping list within budget, to being able to chop an onion or cook a tasty stir fry.

“When we think of the term ‘food skills’ we generally think just of cooking. However, food skills incorporate things like planning meals ahead, shopping and budgeting, and knowledge of basic food safety and nutrition.”

Safefood’s ‘Food Skills: Definitions, influences and relationship with health‘ analysed a range of studies from around the world.

Several noted that busy lifestyles mean that parents might not be cooking at home as frequently.

This, combined with the family being the main source of learning about basic cooking skills, means that younger generations are not learning how to cook healthily for themselves.

Practical learning courses

“In addition, practical learning courses in schools such as home economics are not available in some schools and generally have a low level of engagement, particularly among boys,” the report read.

It also reported that there was “clear evidence that procession of food skills can influence healthy eating behaviour, dietary quality and food safety, which can affect health”, although no direct link between food skills and health has been established.

The report also found a “welcome” trend towards an increased interest in home cooking.

There was conflicting evidence on a relationship between lower socio-economic status and food skills.

While some found people in this bracket were better able to prepare dinners from scratch, others found that there was a lack of knowledge about healthy food.

It is hoped that the report will be used as the basis for more in-depth studies of the level of food skills in Ireland.

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Nicky Ryan

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