To describe food-preparation behaviors, cooking skills, resources for preparing food,
and associations with diet quality among young adults.
Cross-sectional analyses were performed in a sample of young adults who responded
to the second wave of a population-based longitudinal study. Measures pertaining to
food preparation were self-reported and dietary intake was assessed by a food frequency
questionnaire, both by a mailed survey.
Males (n=764) and females (n=946) ages 18 to 23 years.
Statistical Analyses Performed
Cross-tabulations and χ2 tests were used to examine associations between food preparation, skills/resources
for preparing foods, and characteristics of young adults. Mixed regression models
were used to generate expected probabilities of meeting the Healthy People 2010 dietary objectives according to reported behaviors and skills/resources.
Food-preparation behaviors were not performed by the majority of young adults even
weekly. Sex (male), race (African American), and living situation (campus housing)
were significantly related to less frequent food preparation. Lower perceived adequacy
of skills and resources for food preparation was related to reported race (African
American or Hispanic) and student status (part-time or not in school). The most common
barrier to food preparation was lack of time, reported by 36% of young adults. Young
adults who reported frequent food preparation reported less frequent fast-food use
and were more likely to meet dietary objectives for fat (P<0.001), calcium (P<0.001), fruit (P<0.001), vegetable (P<0.001), and whole-grain (P=0.003) consumption.
To improve dietary intake, interventions among young adults should teach skills for
preparing quick and healthful meals.