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Nutrition Today:
doi: 10.1097/NT.0b013e31825744a5
Nutrition and Food History

Home Economics: An Old-fashioned Answer to a Modern-Day Dilemma?

Cunningham-Sabo, Leslie PhD, RD; Simons, Amanda BA

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Abstract

Significant differences have been noted between the present-day field of family and consumer science and its foundational discipline of home economics. Traditional home economics courses were a mandatory component for girls in many primary and secondary schools of the early 1900s, interactively teaching skills such as cooking, nutrition, and caretaking. Political turmoil arising during the mid-20th century and the residual social aftershock warranted a transformation of the field of home economics into its present-day derivation: family and consumer science. This conversion paralleled notable changes in Americans’ sentiment and behaviors toward food preparation and eating. Traditional home cooking took a backseat to convenience foods and eating out, which experts blame in part for the present rates of overweight and obesity and overall decline in American diet quality. The temporal correlation between the evolution of home economics and the demise in Americans’ nutritional health raises questions regarding a potential relationship between the two. This article sheds light on the influential loss of Americans’ competence in traditional home economics course content as well as its implications for present-day and future society.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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