Safefood: The impact of cooking and food-related skills on the healthiness of diets


A comprehensive programme of research is proposed to investigate the prevalence of food skills within a representative sample of adults on the IOI. The research aims to gain an understanding of the impact of food cooking skills on healthy dietary behaviour and to identify the barriers and facilitators to learning cooking skills. Findings from each task will be used to make recommendations which will seek to enhance adult food skills on the IOI.

This project is being coordinated by Moira Dean at Queen’s University of Belfast in conjunction with the University of Surrey, the University of UlsterCity University London and St Angela’s College, Sligo. 

This research will provide a holistic approach to understanding healthful dietary food skills on the IOI and their impact on an individuals’ diet. By integrating social science perspectives with those of nutrition and gastronomy we will develop and validate a food skills measurement tool that would help to explore the current level of cooking skills, where these skills originated, how these skills have been developed, the most effective way to enhance these skills through learning and how they relate to dietary practices. This research is conducted with a view to enhancing current understandings of how people use food related cooking and other skills and to recommend ways of improving these skills in the future to promote healthful diets.

Specific objectives:

  • Develop, pilot and validate a quantitative tool for assessing adult’s food skills on the on the island of Ireland (IOI).
  • Quantitatively assess the food related skills of a representative sample of adults aged 20-60 years on the IOI and identify predictors of skills.
  • Assess the relationship between food related skills and the healthy eating among a representative sample of adults aged 20-60 years on the IOI.
  • Using qualitative research techniques investigate the barriers and facilitators that adults face in improving food skills, in addition to exploring the mechanisms and processes underpinning the learning of cooking skills.
  • Compare the findings for the 20-39 and 40-60 year age groups.
  • To formulate recommendations on mechanisms, processed and methods for enhancing cooking and other food skills among the adult population.

Surrey and City University will advise and comment on the design, protocol & analysis of the studies, attend meetings and comment on the reports.



  • Giovanna Fiates

University of Surrey contact: