Academic journal article Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences

Nutrition Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices of Certified Executive Chefs

Academic journal article Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences

Nutrition Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices of Certified Executive Chefs

Article excerpt



The relationship between nutrition and wellness is firmly established. Although consumer surveys indicate a sincere interest in healthful eating, data indicate that the chasm between good intentions and actual dietary behavior is widening. The purpose of this study was to measure the nutrition knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of Certified Executive Chefs (CECs) in the United States. Results indicated an average knowledge score of 70%. Although CECs reported taking positive steps toward producing healthier food items, many indicated a need for practical ways to implement the Dietary Guidelines. Foods and Nutrition specialists have an opportunity to develop continuing education experiences to meet this need.


"Wellness" is one of several themes included in the current conceptual framework of the discipline of Family and Consumer Sciences (Anderson & Nickols, 2001). The relationship between nutrition and wellness has been firmly established. Four of the 10 leading causes of death in America are strongly associated with nutrition (Frazao, 1996; DHHS, 2000). Diets high in fat, especially saturated fat, and diets low in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fiber are linked with heart disease, several types of cancers, and the increasing prevalence of diabetes (CDC, 1999; DHHS, 2000). According to the American Dietetic Association's public opinion survey, Nutrition and You: Trends 2000, 85% of respondents said diet and nutrition were important to them personally, 59% ranked diet and nutrition as either "very important" or "somewhat important," and 41 % felt they were doing all they could to achieve a healthy diet (ADA, 2000). During the same time period, however, the per capita consumption of caloric sweeteners increased to 158 pounds in 1999 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2002), the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) indicated 88% of American diets were classified as either "needs improvement" (77%) or "poor" (18%) (Bowman et al., 1998; Borra et al., 2001; Variyam et al., 2001), and 42% of responders to a recent USDA survey mistakenly believed their diets were more healthful than they actually were (Shim et al., 2000). The chasm between good intentions and actual dietary behavior has widened.

The fast-paced American lifestyle results in an everincreasing dependence on eating out, further complicating the dietary quality of individuals and families. In 2000, the typical American (eight years old or older) consumed an average of 4.2 meals per week prepared away from home, compared to 4.1 meals per week in 1996 and 3.8 in 1991 (NRA, 2001). Of all the weekly meals consumed in 2000, 68.3 % were privately prepared, 19.9% were prepared at a restaurant or school/work cafeteria, and 11.8% were skipped altogether, with breakfast the most likely meal to be skipped (NRA, 2000). Approximately 53.5 billion commercially prepared meals were consumed in 2000, a 39% increase since 1981 (NRA, 2000).

Few studies have examined the impact of the nutrition knowledge and practices of chefs on the quality and availability of healthy food choices that are available for consumption by those who frequent their establishments. In 1987, Regan noted that, although the public was demanding more nutritious offerings when they ate out, chefs who prepared the food often lacked the nutrition knowledge necessary to meet these demands (Regan, 1987). Reichler and Dalton (1998) measured attitudes, knowledge, and practices regarding healthful food preparation of a group of chefs and student chefs who studied and worked in New York. The authors suggested that, despite the chefs' positive attitude toward healthful food preparation practices, greater utilization of these techniques was necessary to produce foods that more closely follow the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Individual, family, and community wellness, fundamental to the conceptual framework of family and consumer sciences (Baugher et al. …

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