Saturday, 14 April 2012

Children Learn to Cook in School - Health - Nutrition

The steady rise in a number of nations` weight gains amongst their populations has heard the alarm bells ringing at what many describe as an obesity epidemic. It is generally agreed that something must be done to put a halt to the overweight problem, otherwise the cost to health and life itself will be staggering.

A public education campaign by New York city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene - five advertisements, which have been posted in 1,000 subway cars - struck a variety of themes. It was designed to make commuters aware of what unhealthy eating can do to the body, as well as showing the number of calories contained in example dishes.

Childhood obesity in Europe is growing at an alarming rate and is accelerating rapidly.

In 2005, 14 million children were categorised as overweight or obese with an estimated 400,000 children entering this category every year. In 2007, the number has risen to 22 million.

There are serious health consequences for obese children now, and as they grow up.

Around 20,000 obese children have type-2 diabetes, over a million obese children are likely to show signs for cardiovascular diseases, and over 1.4 million may have early stages of liver disorder.

Obese children are more likely to become obese adults, meaning they will be at higher risk of developing cancer, heart disease and suffering from depression.

Preventative measures have been drawn up to make younger ones at school more aware of dietary needs which will, if taught from a very early age, help children learn about what goes into food, the best ways of cooking, healthy recipes and so on, so that they will benefit in their later lives.

Research has shown a link between nutrition in early childhood and improved productivity and overall health later in life. And a study recently published in the medical journal The Lancet offers the first direct evidence that eating well as an infant and toddler stands to increase earning potential as an adult. It`s getting essential that children learn to cook at school.

Soaring obesity levels look set to drain local health and public service budgets, which will mean higher taxes for all, experts warn.

Obesity could cost NHS in England 6.3bn by 2015 if no effective action is taken says the Department of Health.

According to recent statistics, obesity kills more than 9,000 Britons a year.

Last year, the Government-commissioned Foresight report warned that unless urgent action was taken half of all Britons could be obese by 2050.

Earlier this year a warning was given that heavily overweight schoolchildren faced dying eleven years younger than their slimmer classmates.

So, what is being done to improve youngster`s education with regard to cooking? In Canada, for instance, Toronto's Rising Chefs Culinary Centre, introduced the art of food preparation to kids three and older. Classes are taught by an executive chef with more than 20 years experience and a designation of certified chef de cuisine, the highest accreditation awarded in the culinary profession in Canada. The owners say that kids who learn to cook for themselves stand a better chance at avoiding obesity.

An array of week-long options are served up at this year-round kids' cooking school. Spark an interest in global flavours with the World Tour camp; each week explores food from a different part of the world, including the Mediterranean, Europe, Asia, the South Pacific, the Americas and the Caribbean. Kids spend the day preparing two dishes and learning about the country they're from. Tweens may prefer the one-week Culinary Boot Camp, where they'll learn the art of food presentation, concoct delicious sauces, pastas and meat dishes, and visit local farms. Or there's the Baking Boot Camp, which schools your child in breads, pastries, desserts and piping techniques. Ages six to 12.

From their website - "Welcome to Rising Chefs home on the web! We would like to thank you for taking the time to learn more about our wonderful company. We specialize in making cooking fun! Based in the Greater Toronto Area or GTA we cater to kids, teens, and adults who want to learn how to cook. Never before has a Toronto cooking school put as much energy and time into making healthy recipes, healthy eating choices and great food come together in so many comprehensive classes. "

Rising Chefs students who are five and older will get to cook themselves, while youngsters aged three and four will be introduced to gastronomy through measuring, mixing and other hands-on activities.

North District Middle School in Varnville, South Carolina, USA, was selected from more than 60 applicants nationwide to receive the first-ever School Nutrition Foundation' Winston Industries Equipment Award. The school kitchen, serving the only middle school in Hampton School District One, will receive quality commercial kitchen equipment including Holding Cabinets, Holding Drawers and a Steamer from Winston Industries, Inc. - a leading foodservice equipment manufacturer located in Louisville, Kentucky. The award was applied for in order to update the 40-year-old kitchen equipment that often needs expensive repairs.

As school nutrition programs nationwide provide healthy school breakfasts and lunches to students at a national average of less than $2.00 per balanced meal, costs to upgrade and replace kitchen equipment are often difficult to cover. For this reason, the School Nutrition Foundation' Winston Industries Equipment Award was created in 2007 to assist school nutrition programs to secure the equipment they need to continue to offer quality, nutritious meals.

About the School Nutrition Foundation The School Nutrition Foundation, established in 1964, is a non-profit corporation that provides high-quality professional development, financial aid and research programs to child nutrition professionals and members of the School Nutrition Association (SNA.) The Foundation's commitment to the child nutrition community is integral to implementing positive change in school meals and, ultimately, to the health of school children. SNA is a national, non-profit professional organization representing more than 55,000 members who provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country. The association and its members are dedicated to feeding children safe and nutritious meals.

In England cooking lessons are to be compulsory in England's secondary schools for children aged 11 to 14.

Pupils will learn to cook for an hour a week for one term. Poorer pupils' ingredients will be subsidised.

Cooking is an optional part of the design and technology curriculum, but is not currently taught in all schools. The move is part of the strategy to tackle obesity, as experts believe 1m children will be obese in a decade.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families says that about 85% of secondary schools do offer cookery, (cooking), in some form. It wants those schools to make the change immediately, and the rest by 2011.

All 11-year-olds in England will be able to receive a free cookbook under a programme aimed at tackling obesity. Head teachers will be able to order the booklet, which has recipes for favourites such as spaghetti bolognese, roast chicken and jacket potatoes.

Primary pupils It might come as a surprise to many parents but cookery - or food skills - is already, theoretically at least, compulsory on the primary school curriculum. As they learn about nutrition, food groups and the science of food, children are expected to progress from cutting up fruit to baking bread.

In practice, either because they don't have trained staff or the facilities, few schools do much, if any, hands-on cooking with children. Now that cooking is to be taught to secondary school children, public health campaigners' focus has switched to giving younger and more impressionable children a better and practical food education.

Primary school teachers are not given any training in teaching cooking, although there is a scheme for secondary food teachers to pass on skills to primary school staff. Very few primary schools have any facilities for children to cook in, either. In Wales a commitment to teach under-11s how to cook has been made.

But critics have expressed concern about the practicalities of the idea.

Clarissa Williams of the National Association of Head Teachers said the training of food technology teachers had been neglected for so long it would be difficult to see the strategy through.

Children will have to participate in a one-hour lesson each week for a whole term, in the bid to teach nutritional lessons that put a stop to obesity. Many may think this is an excellent idea, with support from TV chef Jamie Oliver and parents that relieve themselves of the pressure to cook meals that must be green, lean and tasty because now, their children can do it.

Whether just one hour a week is enough though is debatable. Just as cooking needs time, so does teaching it. Practical cookery in an hour is impossible, it limits the number of dishes taught and becomes rushed, so already many believe the Government's plans are flawed - a two-hour lesson a week would certainly be more useful if the plan intends longevity in Britain's educational scheme.

The situation in Germany, however, is different. Neither elementary school nor high school curricula require instruction in food-preparation skills or on how to run a household. Only occasionally will a high school offer these subjects as electives.

Sadly, the number of children who are taught food-preparation skills at home is continually declining. Scientists bemoan the loss as more and more students grow up without the necessary skills for running a household.

This is where Aid Infoservice came into the picture. It has instituted a program of instructional building blocks for elementary students by establishing a "Nutrition Competency Driver's License."

The core of this curriculum, comprised of six or seven two-hour classroom sessions, focuses on practical experiences with food ingredients and kitchen tools, but does not include experience in an actual kitchen lab.

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