If we want adults to eat a healthier diet, we should get them cooking more often when they’re young. That’s the conclusion of a report published in the May edition of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. The findings drew on data from the Project Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults longitudinal study in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area.

Study participants reported on how well they could cook when they were 18–23 and then detailed their dietary habits when they were 30–35. Researchers linked better cooking skills at a younger age with a tendency for healthier eating habits later in life. Volunteers who could cook better were less likely to eat fast food and more likely to prepare meals with vegetables and to sit down for family meals.

Providing an environment that lets adolescents hone their cooking skills may improve nutritional well being down the road, when these individuals have more responsibility for meal preparation. Do we hear a call for the return of widespread home economics classes?