The objective of the study was to evaluate the clinical health outcomes of participants in Cooking for Salud, a culinary-based lifestyle modification program.
Use of Theory or Research
Informed by Social Cognitive Theory and as seen in previous evaluations of the Cooking for Salud program, participants reported an increase in nutrition knowledge, adoption of healthy behaviors, and confidence in modeling healthy behaviors. However, limited information exists to confirm the medical impact of this type of nutrition education intervention.
This program targeted low-income, Spanish-speaking men and women over the age of 55 living in National City, California who have or are at risk for chronic disease.
Olivewood Gardens’ Cooking for Salud program is a 7-week, peer-to-peer lifestyle modification program that gives participants tools to change their food-related habits by participating in culinary instruction centered around nutrition, mindfulness, and wellness. The Program is a launching point for ongoing, sustainable behavior change through peer support, empowerment, and continued education. In the Fall of 2018, Olivewood Gardens hosted a group of 15 older adults for the 14th cohort of Cooking for Salud.
Data collection methods included a mix of pre- and post-clinical health measures, pre-survey, retrospective post-then-pre survey, as well as observational and focus group data. Baseline survey and clinical health measures were collected prior to the start of the 7-week intervention and then again at the completion of the program. Additionally, focus group discussions were held 3 months post-intervention.
After participating in the Cooking for Salud program, 100% of participants positively changed 1 or more clinical health measures, with statistically significant improvement in A1C and HDL Cholesterol levels. Additionally, 100% of participants reported feeling healthier than they used to and now eat meals that are more nutritious.
The evaluation of the Cooking for Salud program shows that nutrition education and behavior modification can result in significant improvements in chronic disease-related clinical outcomes in low-income older adults.