Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Bring Back Home Economics Education

That’s the title of an article by Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc (Tufts University) and David S. Ludwig, MD, PhD (Children's Hospital, Boston) in Journal of the American Medical Association. 2010; 303(18):1857-1858.

I couldn’t have said it better myself, so I am excerpting sections of the article here in my blog.

“Home economics, otherwise known as domestic education, was a fixture in secondary schools through the 1960s, at least for girls. The underlying concept was that future homemakers should be educated in the care and feeding of their families. This idea now seems quaint, but in the midst of a pediatric obesity epidemic and concerns about the poor diet quality of adolescents in the United States, instruction in basic food preparation and meal planning skills needs to be part of any long-term solution.
Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign—with its emphasis on improving the quality of food and beverage in the schools and the community—is a welcome and historic step. However, better choices in schools will ultimately have limited effects if children do not have the ability to make better choices in the outside-school world, where they spend the majority of their time when young and which they inhabit when older. If children are raised to feel uncomfortable in the kitchen, they will be at a disadvantage for life.
Even more than before, parents and caregivers today cannot be expected or relied on to teach children how to prepare healthy meals. Many parents never learned to cook and instead rely on restaurants, take-out food, frozen meals, and packaged food as basic fare. Many children seldom experience what a true home-cooked meal tastes like, much less see what goes into preparing it. Work schedules and child extracurricular programs frequently preclude involving children in food shopping and preparation. The family dinner has become the exception rather than the rule.
An informed generation of children may also influence the eating habits of US families, just as tobacco education causes some students to discourage their parents from smoking.”