Get access

What's cooking for dietetics? A review of the literature


  • A. Begley, MPH, APD, Lecturer
    D. Gallegos, PhD, APD, Senior Lecturer

A. Begley, School of Public Health, Curtin University of Technology, GPO Box U 1987 Perth, WA 6849, Australia. Tel: +61 (08) 9266 2773; Fax: +61 (08) 9266 2598; Email:


Aim:  There has been no systematic research on the role of cooking skills for improving dietary intakes in Australia. Cooking skills are proposed to be declining and/or being devalued. If cooking skills have been devalued and declining, then what evidence is there for this decline and what impact might this have on dietary intakes? The aim of the present paper is to explore these assumptions with particular reference to Australia. The objectives of the present paper are to define the terms cooking and cooking skills, discuss evidence on levels of cooking skills in Australia and describe the evidence linking cooking skills to dietary intakes.

Methods:  A review of the peer-reviewed literature using multiple databases from 1990 to September 2009.

Results:  Cooking skills are complex and require a range of processes for people to develop efficiency or confidence in food preparation. There is little evidence on the level of cooking skills in the Australian population and how this relates to dietary intakes. The Australian Bureau of Statistic's latest Time Use Survey and Household Expenditure Survey suggest that cooking is still a gendered activity and that the time devoted to cooking has changed little in the past 15 years, but there is an increasing use of foods prepared outside the home.

Conclusion:  Further research is required to examine the prevalence of different types and levels of cooking skills in Australia as well as their potential effects on dietary intakes. Dietitians need evidence about the level of cooking skills people require for healthy dietary intakes.