Half of Aussie teens can’t boil an egg

EXCLUSIVE: AUSSIE teens are clueless in the kitchen and it is impacting their health and leading our next generation towards higher rates of obesity.

The shocking findings include:

• Close to half of all 12-18-year-olds can't boil an egg;

• 1 in 5 only have kitchen skills that allow them to pour milk on cereal;

• 42 per cent can't boil pasta;

• 83.9 per cent don't know how to roast a chicken;

• 60.1 per cent can't bake a potato and;

• 45.7 couldn't confidently follow a recipe through to completion.

The majority of teenagers don’t know how to roast a chicken.
The majority of teenagers don’t know how to roast a chicken.

The findings from national research company Pureprofile can be revealed exclusively by News Corp Australia and have been correlated from a national survey of 1006 parents.

Parents were asked to assess how well their kids could perform in the kitchen across a range of parameters.

More than half (67.3 per cent) of parents believe their children could do better when it comes to healthy food and lifestyle knowledge.

Close to half of parents (42.5 per cent) believe poor food choices are caused by lack of education at secondary school, with nine in 10 parents in support of schools doing more to promote healthy lifestyle.

One in four Australian children under the age of 18 is considered to be overweight or obese with Australia the fifth most obese nation in the world according to the OECD.

But those numbers will continue to grow if we are not able to adequately teach our children healthy food choices according to experts.

More than 40 per cent of teenagers don’t know how to boil pasta.
More than 40 per cent of teenagers don’t know how to boil pasta.

Miriam Raleigh, nutritionist with Child Nutrition, said she was already seeing a generation of young parents who had "no idea how to cook".

"They rely on convenience meals and easy snacks and the reality is those foods often have a higher fat and salt content which can lead to obesity but also a range of cardiovascular and health issues," Ms Raleigh said.

Australian Medical Association president Tony Bartone said the findings relating to kids lack of kitchen knowledge was "very concerning".

"There is no doubt that if these trends continue levels (of childhood obesity) can only continue to increase," Dr Bartone said.

"Health literacy especially around nutrition is crucial both in adequate healthy lifestyle management and prevention of obesity and associated lifestyle diseases."

Nearly half of teenagers can’t confidently follow a recipe through to completion
Nearly half of teenagers can’t confidently follow a recipe through to completion

Alice Zaslavsky, former MasterChef contestant and creator of Phenomenom, said perhaps parents had underestimated their kids skills.

"Sometimes parents of teenagers can set their expectations of their teens lower than what they are actually capable of. Maybe we need to give kids more credit," Ms Zaslavsky said.

Chef and Kitchen Garden founder Stephanie Alexander said that if more was not done to change the tide we would be heading towards a generation of fatter and more unhealthy kids.

Alexander said parents need to step up but also government needs to do more.

On Monday, Alexander will launch a pilot of her hugely successful Kitchen Garden program into secondary schools so teenagers can learn the art of growing and cooking food.

"I'm so proud of what we have achieved in the primary school sector and I really believe we can have the same success in secondary schools."

Stephanie Alexander is launching her hugely successful Kitchen Garden program into secondary schools. Picture: Nicole Cleary
Stephanie Alexander is launching her hugely successful Kitchen Garden program into secondary schools. Picture: Nicole Cleary

Andrea Pusca and her 15-year-old son Tirron couldn't be happier that the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden program has come to the secondary school.

"It is crucial and important for this age group to be taught life skills like cooking and growing fruit and vegetables and the basics of where their food comes from," Mrs Pusca, who has four children aged 19 to 10, told News Corp Australia.

The Narre Warren, Melbourne, resident said it was "alarming" that so many kids had no clue of how to do basic cooking like boiling an egg or baking a potato.

"We've always got the kids involved in cooking with us but I know so many families who don't and it is really not setting their kids up for a healthy future."

Narre Warren South College students (from left) Emilie, 15, Kavi, 14, Tirron, 15 and Brett, 14., taking part in their school’s Kitchen Garden program. Picture: Mark Stewart
Narre Warren South College students (from left) Emilie, 15, Kavi, 14, Tirron, 15 and Brett, 14., taking part in their school’s Kitchen Garden program. Picture: Mark Stewart

Tirron, who has been involved with the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden program for several months, said his generation was all about convenience.

"I honestly think people in my generation don't rely on themselves to make food. They go out there and expect fast convenient food like McDonalds which is not the healthiest," he said.

"I do think we have a problem with obesity and lack of healthy living in our generation."

Tirron said being able to grow food from scratch and see it translated into healthy food had made a difference for many of his peers, and even himself.

"I have learnt so much from this experience and I really think it should be in all secondary schools. These are vital skills we all need to learn."

HOW TO GET YOUR KIDS COMPETENT IN THE KITCHEN

*Take your kids grocery shopping with you. Let them choose what you will cook one night a week but lay some ground rules like - it has to include vegetables.

* Start a family roster and have every person in the household cook at least one night a week.

* Plant a vegetable garden at home - it doesn't have to be a large one. Even just one pot with one type of vegetable is a good start. If you don't have space for one pot, consider getting a plot at a community garden.

* Eat together as a family where possible and get your kids involved in the whole meal experience - even just starting with setting the table



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