Tech ID: W-21-030
Low food skills are barriers to healthy eating, while higher food preparation skills are associated with better diet quality including increased intake of vegetables and fruits; lower intake of calories, fat, and sugar; and lower intake of fast food, all of which are associated with reduced risk for diet-related chronic disease. Various programs and interventions have been developed to improve food skills; however, methodological limits ons including non-experimental study designs, lack of follow-up data, and use of non-validated assessment tools highlight the need for more stringent study designs and development of validated measurement tools.
Measuring or quantifying food skills is challenging because there is no reference standard for comparison. Self-reported familiarity with cooking techniques was identified as a motivator for food preparation. Confidence in food preparation skills may influence purchasing behaviours and diet quality, and attitudes and beliefs affect the quantity, frequency, and me spent preparing food. Currently, validated surveys and scales measure only some aspects of food skills, such as food safety or self-reported technical cooking skills, and may not assess food skills as an overall construct. Others identified cooking skills as distinct from food skills. However, cooking skills would generally be identified as a component of food skills. Conversely, other surveys focus on nutrition literacy in the name of food literacy. Although nutrition literacy is important, it is only one aspect of food literacy.
Researchers at Brescia University College and Western University have developed a Food Skills Questionnaire (FSQ) a comprehensive tool for assessing food skills in three domains (Food Selection and Planning, Food Preparation, and Food Safety and Storage) in individuals or groups with basic to intermediate food skills. Researchers have also supplementary questions which can boost the assessment of food skills to an advanced level, although these haven’t been validated and can also provide a series of food-related behavioural and demographic questions which can be used in combination with the FSQ.
The FSQ shows strong potential for evaluating basic (e.g., peeling, chopping, slicing) to intermediate (e.g., meal planning) food skills in an effective and feasible manner. It can also capture changes in specific domains, allowing the development of more focused nutrition education and skills-based interventions. Ultimately, higher food skills in the population could result in increased intakes of vegetables and fruits and lower intakes of calories, fat, sugar, and fast food, potentially reducing the risk for chronic diseases
Benefits, Advantages and Applications
- Questionnaire provides an overall food skill score for each of the three domains: food selection and planning, food preparation, and food safety and storage
- Strong content and face validity, strong test-retest reliability, and good inter-item reliability
- Valid and reliable tool that can be used to evaluate basic to intermediate food skills
- Use in various industries and sectors: food handling and food preparation programs, health units, restaurants, personal food skills assessment
- Available for licensing
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