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Community-based cooking programme ‘Eat Better Feel Better’ can improve child and family eating behaviours in low socioeconomic groups


Background The immediate and sustained impacts of the Eat Better Feel Better cooking programme (EBFBCP) on food choices and eating behaviours in families and children were evaluated.

Methods The EBFBCP (6 weeks, 2 hours/week) was delivered by community-based organisations in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Scotland. Before, after and at follow-up, parents/caregivers completed short pictorial questionnaires to report family/child eating behaviours and food literacy.

Results In total, 83 EBFBCPs were delivered and 516 participants enrolled, of which 432 were parents and caregivers. Questionnaire completion rates were 57% (n=250) for before and after and 13% (n=58) for follow-up. Most participants (80%) were female, 25–44 years old (51%) and considered socioeconomically deprived (80%). The immediate effects of the EBFBCP on eating behaviours and food literacy were families ate less takeaway/fast foods (10% reduction, p=0.019) and ready meals (15% reduction, p=0.003) and cooked more from scratch (20% increase, p<0.001). Children’s consumption of discretionary food/drinks was significantly reduced after the EBFBCP for sugary drinks (10% reduction, p=0.012), savoury snacks (18%, p=0.012), biscuits (17%, p=0.007), sweets/chocolates (23%, p=0.002), fried/roasted potatoes (17%, p<0.001) and savoury pastries (11%, p<0.001). The number of fruit (15%, p=0.008) and vegetable portions (10%, p<0.001) increased, while the number of biscuit portions decreased (13%, p=0.005). Parental food label reading increased (calories, 22%; fat, 23%; sugar, 22%; ingredients, 19%; and portion size, 19%). Most changes were sustained at a median of 10 months’ follow-up.

Conclusion The EBFBCP improved children’s and families’ food choices and behaviours. The EBFBCP can be recommended to support families to make better food choices.

  • diet
  • health behaviour
  • public health
  • nutrition
  • child health

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