Cooking Show for Adolescents Serves Up Ideas for Healthy Eating and Clean Cooking in Bangladesh
DHAKA, March 17, 2022 – Budding young chefs from across Bangladesh are flexing their cooking skills in Shorno Chef, a partnership between UNICEF, the Ministry of Health, and the Clean Cooking Alliance. The programme, which is projected to reach 6 million viewers, inspires healthy eating habits among adolescents and their families.
“Raising the level of nutrition in Bangladesh is enshrined in our country’s first constitution. The Government of Bangladesh has been working towards that goal ever since. It is commendable that in addition to the Government’s efforts on nutrition, development partners like UNICEF are teaching adolescents about the importance of nutrition and teaching them at an early age to cook not only filling meals but also nutritious ones,” said Dr. S M Mustafizur Rahman, Line Director, National Nutrition Services, Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
The importance of good nutrition begins from the moment of conception and remains key to a person’s health and well-being through childhood and adolescence into adulthood.
The consequences of not getting enough nutrients from a varied diet of vegetables, fruit, and protein such as eggs, fish, meat and pulses can be long-lasting. It can lead to malnutrition in all its forms, where undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies can co-exist with overweight and obesity. An insufficient diet hampers a child’s cognitive development, school readiness, learning performance and life opportunities.
Bangladesh faces a multiple burden of malnutrition. 28 per cent of children are chronically malnourished and 1 in 10 children suffers from acute malnutrition. Overweight and obesity are on the rise among children and adolescents. 56 per cent of adolescent girls suffer from anaemia.
However, these challenges can be overcome by equipping adolescents with the knowledge they need to make healthier dietary choices. This can help reverse faltering growth in early childhood, build a foundation for lifelong good health, and break the cycle of malnutrition from one generation to the next.
“Shorno Chef is about helping adolescents make healthy and nutritious food choices by conveying the fun of cooking and joy of healthy eating. Sadly, many adolescents do not have the option to eat enough nutritious food, and others consume too much unhealthy food. In the end, it is a balanced diet that adolescents also enjoy eating that will help them grow to their full potential,” said Mr. Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Representative to Bangladesh.
The Shorno Chef programme features adolescent chefs aged between 12 and 17 who compete in a different cooking challenge each week. At the end of each episode their dishes are assessed for both nutritional value and taste by a panel of judges, who include a professional chef and a nutritionist.
The programme also encourages healthier cooking fuels such as electricity or cooking gas instead of firewood. In Bangladesh, exposure to cooking smoke in the home is a health concern, particularly for children and adolescents.
“The Clean Cooking Alliance is happy to partner with UNICEF and the Government of Bangladesh to help youth learn more about the benefits of clean cooking, which can improve the health of millions of young people around the world,” said Asna Towfiq, Policy Manager with the Clean Cooking Alliance. “Educating and empowering youth as changemakers and innovators is essential to advancing access to clean cooking. We wish the show and the amazing participants all the success in their journey.”