Open Access Study protocol

Methods for the evaluation of the Jamie Oliver Ministry of Food program, Australia

Anna Flego1*, Jessica Herbert1, Lisa Gibbs2, Boyd Swinburn34, Catherine Keating1, Elizabeth Waters2 and Marj Moodie1

Author Affiliations

1 Deakin Health Economics, Faculty of Health, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia

2 Jack Brockhoff Child Health and Wellbeing Program, The McCaughey Centre, Melbourne School of Population Health, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

3 WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, Faculty of Health, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia

4 School of Population Health, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:411  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-411

Published: 30 April 2013



Community-based programs aimed at improving cooking skills, cooking confidence and individual eating behaviours have grown in number over the past two decades. Whilst some evidence exists to support their effectiveness, only small behavioural changes have been reported and limitations in study design may have impacted on results.

This paper describes the first evaluation of the Jamie Oliver Ministry of Food Program (JMoF) Australia, in Ipswich, Queensland. JMoF Australia is a community-based cooking skills program open to the general public consisting of 1.5 hour classes weekly over a 10 week period, based on the program of the same name originating in the United Kingdom.


A mixed methods study design is proposed. Given the programmatic implementation of JMoF in Ipswich, the quantitative study is a non-randomised, pre-post design comparing participants undergoing the program with a wait-list control group. There will be two primary outcome measures: (i) change in cooking confidence (self-efficacy) and (ii) change in self-reported mean vegetable intake (serves per day). Secondary outcome measures will include change in individual cooking and eating behaviours and psycho-social measures such as social connectedness and self-esteem. Repeated measures will be collected at baseline, program completion (10 weeks) and 6 months follow up from program completion. A sample of 250 participants per group will be recruited for the evaluation to detect a mean change of 0.5 serves a day of vegetables at 80% power (0.5% significance level). Data analysis will assess the magnitude of change of these variables both within and between groups and use sub group analysis to explore the relationships between socio-demographic characteristics and outcomes.

The qualitative study will be a longitudinal design consisting of semi-structured interviews with approximately 10-15 participants conducted at successive time points. An inductive thematic analysis will be conducted to explore social, attitudinal and behavioural changes experienced by program participants.


This evaluation will contribute to the evidence of whether cooking programs work in terms of improving health and wellbeing and the underlying mechanisms which may lead to positive behaviour change.

Trial registration

Australian and New Zealand Trial registration number: ACTRN12611001209987.