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England Plans to Make Cooking Classes Mandatory

Would Mandatory Cooking Classes Help Childhood Obesity?

In an effort to tackle childhood obesity, secondary school students in the United Kingdom will be given practical cookery lessons. That's right, they're going back to the days of home-ec. They're hoping that basic cooking skills will encourage teenagers to cook their own meals and stop their dependency on processed foods.

The full plan is expected to be announced today by Schools Secretary Ed Balls. There's worry that there will be a shortage of teachers and equipment, but if all goes accordingly, schools that currently offer food technology classes (85 percent of all schools) will have to teach basic cookery skills. The other 15 percent will have to follow suit by 2011.

What do you think? Do you think that mandatory cooking classes will actually help childhood obesity? Would you want a similar program put into place in America?


Join The Conversation
designergirl designergirl 9 years
I do think cooking classes are a good idea. I'm always horrified at what people eat if they don't cook. Mac and cheese, ramen, and other unhealthy things are their staples. A restaurant's job is to make food taste good, and the cheapest way to accomplish is to add fat. Butter, duck fat, and oils make food taste good. If kids learned how to cook a few meals in high school, it probably would save them a ton of Calories. I personally feel that eating out or eating pre-packaged food is one of the main causes for obesity. I base this solely on observation of my friends.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
Okay, Ed Balls?
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
in some ways i think that it would help. a lot of the time people choose to go for fast food or eat out because they think that it would take too long to make a good meal - while cooking classes will show you that it only takes like 10 minutes to make something much healthier.
girlfriday girlfriday 9 years
I like the idea of teaching kids to cook. It's so hard, especially with young girls today because there are such competing dialogues.
  • One side says - oh you need to look like a model, you need to be a size zero, you won't have a boyfriend unless you're ksinny.
  • The other side is fast food, and marketing for snacks and all this stuff.
  • They're being bombarded with two equally bad messages. What I would like is for us to teach our children the idea of moderation - you should cook healthy, nutritious food, and you can find pleasure in eating too. There is nothing wrong with eating a delicious gourmet cheese or olives or, a homemade fruit pie or anything that people consider "fatty." I think we should enjoy these pleasures in our lives and teach kids to really enjoy food, but also how to use food to better their bodies. Plus, cooking classes help kids to be independent later in life, and that's a great thing.
    Random2 Random2 9 years
    It might teach kids how to cook and look after a home by themselves, but I don't think it'll teach them to not be overweight. In Manitoba, gym classes are becoming mandatory, as are more health classes. Home-ec has been around for years, and it really hasn't made a difference. I can make some mean burgers and beef stir fry, but it really didn't teach me to be healthy.
    GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 9 years
    I don't know. A lot of foodies I know are over-weight! :) I didn't take cooking classes, and I'm not overweight.
    JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
    I don't think that classes should be mandatory but I do think it's a great idea. I know when you make cooking fun that it really makes it more worth it to cook rather than reach for a bag of chips or cookies.
    CiaoBella2 CiaoBella2 9 years
    I think a class might be helpful for children but it's a parent's responsibility to monitor what a child eats at home or brings to school. It's also important that parents are advocates for their children at school by eliminating vending machine that sell unhealthy foods/drinks and fast food chains that sell food in cafeterias. More PE classes in schools at least 2x/wk would be helpful to fight obesity too.
    Soniabonya Soniabonya 9 years
    I think it'd be a great idea to bring home ec and cooking classes back into our schools. Children of todays nation have no clue how to cook a meal other than toss it in the microwave (which in itself is dangerous). Will it curb childhood obesity? I don't think it will have a great effect. I think that children should be taught nutritional values and the health benefits of cooking right, all the while being taught the importance of staying active. Yes you can teach them to cook healthy foods, it doesn't necessarily mean they're going to eat it. Babychloe- I agree with the idea of having a garden. Not only will it teach children more about the vegetables they eat, but also will keep them active. Gardening is a great activity and will keep them outside and off their butts.
    kissmesteph kissmesteph 9 years
    While I think home-ec is a great thing to have, I don't think that it will help curb childhood obesity, for many reasons...... First you have the ridiculously overprotective parents who would shudder at the thought of their children using a knife or the stove. Then there's the fact that learning to cook is one thing - but learning how to eat a healthy, balanced diet is another. Childhood obesity is linked to lack of physical activity and eating too many convenience foods. Kids learning how to cook isn't going to replace physical activity, nor is it going to encourage parents to stop feeding their kids fast food or pre-packaged meals that are full of junk.
    Babychloe Babychloe 9 years
    I think it's a good idea. I took home ec in high school and was taught some easy, good recipes that I continued to make at home. We were also taught how to plan balanced meals. It would also be great if more schools had class gardens. I think kids would be more interested in eating their veggies if they took part in growing them.
    Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
    I don't think might teach you how to cook a bit...but I took cooking from grade 7-12 and it taught me mroe the basics of cooking...not how to not be fat.
    katejlogan katejlogan 9 years
    I don't think it can hurt. Since home ec classes have been all but eliminated from US school so many kids are growing up not knowing anything about running a household. Being able to cook for yourself when all you can afford is ramen noodles and tang all the way to throwing a dinner party is important. But like several comments prior to this one have pointed out, the classes have to be fun and engaging for kids while they are in them. Giving them all the "in the real world" lessons won't hold their interest and will not be worth the time and effort.
    Kristinh1012 Kristinh1012 9 years
    I don't think this is going to help. And personally I am kind of sick of things like this being forced on people. I feel horrible saying this, because I know it is a huge problem and there are many young children that need help. BUT where I live, it's gone as far as my daughter can't take cupcakes to school for her b-day. This really bothered her. Of course we found a healthy alternative and she was happy but I feel like we are sending the wrong message to kids. I feel like we are doing the complete opposite and creating a generation of children headed for eating disorders. We are constantly teaching young kids now that they need to be weight consious. I think it is unfair. It's great that they want to teach kids healthy eating habbits (this should just be a normal part of school/life for them). But I don't think it should be done in an obvious and forceful way.
    ccsugar ccsugar 9 years
    I think it may make a dent, probably a very small one though, but it's definitely a start. I think a lot of kids see veggies and think that they're gross, but if they could see fun ways to cook them and make them taste good, that would definitely help.
    RosaDilia RosaDilia 9 years
    I don't think there is a guarantee that these cooking classes will help prevent obesity in children. It's up to child as well as the parent of the child to practice healthy eating habits. I prefer to see more funding for physical eduacation activities than cooking classes.
    Crisonce Crisonce 9 years
    That's what I teach to middle and high schoolers!!! I've eliminated all white flour from my kitchens and teach kids to cook with fresh ingredients that are local and environmentally sustainable. They actually come up to me asking for my latest tofu recipe!
    NYYPrincess NYYPrincess 9 years
    I think if parents and children had to go through it together and food was used that even lower middle class families could afford, most definitely!! I have a young niece that is skinny as a rail but all she wants are snacks ... most likely because that is what she sees her mom doing: eating tiny portions of nutritious meals and snacking on everything else. People need to be taught how to be healthy again in a realistic and affordable way. I think what Shaquille O'Neal did for those children in Florida was just amazing. If only more athletes and "stars" acted like role models and tried to make a difference like he has.
    aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
    My mother had cooking classes in HS, I always wished I got to experience that myself. I bet it was fun. :)
    Twinkle1 Twinkle1 9 years
    It's a great idea but definitely not a cure for childhood obesity. But still it's a skill everybody should have. Perhaps confidence in the kitchen and some knowledge about nutrition will encourage kids to make smarter choices about food.
    princessangry princessangry 9 years
    It would all depend on the actual content of the classes. I had to do home ec for 3 years in my school and there was A LOT of theory, usually concerning things that didn't really hold the interest of a 13 year old. E.g. How to Buy a Cooker. I know these lessons were meant to be of help to us in adult life, but they didn't really grab us at the time :) One of our first practical lessons was "Making a Cup of Tea With Safety in Mind". Not exactly inspirational. If the classes were well planned and interesting then maybe this would make some difference. It's a start anyway! :)
    wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
    No, I don't think mandatory cooking classes would conquer or resolve obesity. One can make some horribly fattening stuff in your own kitchen just as you well as you can buy it at the store. I was not obese as a child and I knew and took cooking classes from a young age. I had to taken nutrition classes as part of of health education in my school district from elementary through senior year. But as an adult I made intentional mistakes over and over again that lead to my obesity. I was depressed and ate my way to obesity and had to dig my way out. As far as children - they're not in control of the food buying in their families. So schools can teach them to prepare healthy meals but if their parents refuse to or cannot afford the ingredients for said healthy meals then the child is stuck eating what the parent can afford. There is no one single answer for the obesity problem because there is no single cause. There is no easy answer other than to provide many answers, many resources for people.
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