Is teaching children to cook the answer to obesity?
Obesity is a condition where excess body fat causes numerous problems to a person's health and wellbeing. It is measured by the Body Mass Index (BMI) of a person and an estimated one out of four 11-15 year olds in the UK are said to suffer from issues concerned with being overweight and hence, obese. Obesity causes endless health concerns particularly with regards to a lower life expectancy, cancer and cardiovascular problems. Is it possible that these difficulties relating to obesity could be avoided by teaching children the art of cooking?
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Children will learn to avoid too much salt, sugar and fat.
By preparing their own meals, children are put in charge of their health. Thus, they can be taught to avoid using fatty ingredients such as sugar and salt. They can prepare nutritious meals for a low budget and control their sugar, salt and fat in take. This way obesity should begin to decline.
Being able to cook does indeed mean that children will be in charge of their own state of health. However, they may use this to their own personal advantage and instead of reducing the amount of their salt, sugar and fat intake, they may use their ability to make foods which they enjoy eating more, for example cakes, biscuits and pizzas. In this case obesity would be even more of a danger than would be the case if children were ignorant to cooking books.
It will keep children pre-occupied resulting in them eating less.
One of the factors which leads to obesity is a lack of things to do or in other words, being bored. When children are bored they tend to eat more as psychologically they feel hungry. Nevertheless this usually isn't the case and they are just eating out of boredom. Teaching children to cook gives them a hobby; an interest and therefore it pre-occupies them and makes them think about food less resulting in them eating less of it.
I think children should have a range of foods in their diet. Yes, children eat alot but they need to grow. It is also they parents fault for raising them carlessly.
Being able to cook will increase the childs' self-esteem.
Controversially, obesity is the result of a low self-esteem. In other words, the child feels useless and has no confidence in themselves. This results in comfort-eating and thus putting on weight. However, learning to cook could encourage children to believe in themselves more and give them a goal in life. In addition, after having achieved a recipe, the success is likely to substantially increase the child’s self esteem. Therefore, the child will no longer feel the need to comfort-eat.
There are many other ways the child’s self esteem can be rebuilt besides cooking. Although being able to cook is one way to increase self-esteem, the relationship with the child’s parents is a more important factor. A child’s self-esteem can easily grow if the child is praised and acknowledged by their parents. This can be done for any reason, not just through being able to pull off a recipe. For instance, a parent can praise their child for school work, behaving and generally encouraging them to do what they love. All these are ways to increase a child’s self esteem.
If they know how to cook they will know the right foods!
Some or most of the time, parents will go the take away just because of their laziness and some of the time, because they run out of ideas of things to cook.
If parents and children knew how to cook, they will learn the right foods and cook in the healthiest way and probably see the "horrible" fatty foods in a different way.
It won't work. As you have mentioned "Some or most of the time, parents will go the take away just because of their laziness". Children usually take after their parents. Laziness is the nature of every person. Parents usually go eating out because of either their laziness or lack of spare time to cook. That will show their children an example of an "adult life" where there is no point in cooking if you earn enough money to eat out.
Fast Food is still more appealing.
Whilst ingredients for cooking nutritious meals are relatively cheap, fast food restaurants such as McDonalds, KFC and Burger King offer meals for just as cheap. Faced with the prospect of having to spend time and energy preparing their own nutritious meals when they could have one of their favourite foods for the same price and much quicker, it is likely that children will still choose the fast food option.
-Once a child is taught about the dangers of eating too much fast food and how much fatty ingredients fast food contains, it will put them off fast food and persuade them to take charge and create their own healthier meals. Besides, after creating their own meals they have the satisfaction of their achievement and this in itself will make children more interested in cooking their own meals as opposed to sticking to fast food.
-This argument is poorly researched. McDonalds, KFC and Burger King cannot be classed as relatively cheap when you compare it to the cost of cooking your own, healthy version of their meals.
I find it also unlikely that a takeaway would take less time than cooking your own meal if you take into account the time it takes to get to a local fast food restaurant.
Willpower is the essential element to beat obesity.
There is no point trying to overcome obesity if the child does not want to themselves. Being taught to cook will make no difference to their obesity rate unless the child is determined and persistent to overcome their problem. Obesity is like smoking in a way; a person cannot give up smoking unless they have the willpower to do so. This works the same way with eating; a person will not eat less without a certain degree of self-control and determination.
Willpower is important, but so is support. By having an educational strategy that encourages children to make healthy choices and cook nutritional meals, we will be giving children the support they need to take care of their health.
It gives the child better access to food.
Teaching children to cook is providing the children with easy access to their addiction. Therefore cooking is likely to make their obesity worse as it gives them the opportunity to cook their own meals without having to wait for a parent to cook their meals for them. Also, whilst cooking and preparing courses the child will obviously be surrounded by food and ingredients, encouraging them to eat more.
Often parents of obese children are unable to cook healthy meals as they have never been taught how; therefore they rely on prepackaged foods which are high in calories and additives. Often even 'junk' style foods like pizza or curries can be recreated in healthier, home cooked versions. Cooking can empower children to make food that they enjoy but that also does them good. We won't be teaching children to deep-fry chips, but to prepare well-balanced meals for their whole family.
What do you think?