Children's gardening experience is associated with higher vegetable preference and intake
Introduction: Over the past decade, the implementation of school gardens has been recommended as an effective strategy to increase children's vegetable consumption. However, little empirical evidence that supports the hypothesis that teaching children how to grow vegetables will increase their preference for vegetables and increase their intake of vegetables exists. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between children's gardening experience, vegetable preferences, variety of vegetables tasted, and vegetable intake. Methods: 843 3rd grade students (58% female; 11% Spanish speaking) enrolled at low-income schools completed a self-report survey which included items measuring vegetable intake (5 items), vegetable preference (20 items), whether or not he/she had tasted certain vegetables (n=20) and gardening experience (5 items). Gardening experience was divided into 3 categories [no experience; little experience (1-2 gardening activities in previous year), and lot of experience (3 or more)]. Random-effects regression models controlling for school-level clustering were run to estimate the mean of these outcome measures at each level of the main predictor, after controlling for gender and language. Results: 35% of children had no gardening experience, 26 % of children had little experience, and 39% had a lot of experience. Compared to children who had no gardening experience, children who engaged in 3 or more gardening activities liked significantly more vegetables (p<.001), tasted a greater variety of vegetables (p<.001) and consumed higher amounts of vegetables (p<.001). Conclusion: Findings confirm that using school gardens to teach children gardening skills is an effective strategy to increase children's vegetable consumption.
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related education
Public health or related research
Discuss the influence of children's gardening experience on their preference for vegetables and their vegetable intake.
Keyword(s): Food and Nutrition, School Health
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Co-principal Investigator of this study and have been conducting research in this area for about 10 years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No
I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines,
and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed
in my presentation.