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How school gardens can help children try more vegetables

How school gardens can help children try more vegetables
How school gardens can help children try more vegetables

School gardens programs can increase the impact of vegetables and consumption by children.

Getting kids to eat vegetables is known to be difficult.

  • Key takeaway
  • What the study shows
  • How enlarged vegetables can improve overall health
  • Role play of parents
  • Get your kids to try more vegetables
  • Read books together
  • Create a visual poster or goals
  • Start your own garden
  • What does this mean for you

Key takeaway

School gardening programs can increase the impact of vegetables and consumption by children.

Exposure can mean reading, gardening or trying new vegetables at home.

Getting kids to eat vegetables is known to be difficult. But new research shows that gardening, nutrition and cooking programs in schools can have a positive effect on children’s consumption of vegetables.

The study follows from previous studies that have implemented a program of gardening, nutrition and cooking in out-of-school care. In the post-care study, children received intensive lessons for 12 weeks, which resulted in a decrease in BMI and waist circumference, as well as an increase in vegetable consumption by participants.

The researchers sought to find out if they would get similar results if the program was implemented in the school curriculum and taught throughout the lesson throughout the school year, thus targeting more children.

They also sought to implement this in schools with a large proportion of low-income Hispanic families, as these children have statistically the lowest fruit and vegetable consumption among American children.

What the study shows

The study, published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, conducted a randomized trial in 16 schools over three years, with eight intervention schools receiving a gardening program for one school year each. The other eight schools did not receive the program, so the researchers were able to compare results between schools.

Children in grades 3-5 received 18 60-minute lessons from a specialized teacher throughout the school year. During this year, classes covered the following topics:

  • Healthy cooking and cooking fruits and vegetables
  • The choice of nutritious food in different environments
  • Consumption of locally produced food and low-sugar beverages made with fruits and vegetables
  • Health benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables
  • How to eat great when there is a lack of fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Food justice and community service

As part of the program, a school garden was built in the intervention schools. It was used in specialized classes to teach children first-hand to grow their own fresh produce. In intervention schools, parent information evenings were scheduled to inform and involve parents, but participation in these activities was low. “Transport problems have prevented many families from leaving,

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The program found that vegetable consumption among children increased significantly during the year. There was no change in BMI, blood pressure or waist circumference, or consumption of high-sugar fruits or beverages.

How enlarged vegetables can improve overall health

Although childhood obesity has not changed in the short term with this intervention, The benefits of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption are still significant. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables can improve health due to the high concentration of fiber, vitamins and minerals contained in these products. “There are several benefits to eating more fruits and vegetables every day from lowering the risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, diabetes and some cancers.”

Not only is it good for your health, but the variety of fruits and vegetables that children are exposed to can make eating much easier.

Role play of parents

Most of what children learn about food comes from home. That is why parents play such a key role in shaping children’s eating behavior. Children are more likely to try food that is offered in a positive and supportive environment.

The food that parents give to their children will also influence what the child decides to eat. The physical impact of food diversity can be severe for people living in “food deserts”, which include isolated areas or places where fresh food is difficult or expensive.

It can be useful to teach kindergarten children at school or at home. “Teaching children to grow their own food is a powerful tool to increase the benefits and consumption of these vegetables.”

Get your kids to try more vegetables

If your school does not have a garden, there are ways to improve the impact of vegetables and hopefully help children increase consumption.

Read books together

Younger children could enjoy reading stories with parents and caregivers who offer positive messages about fruits and vegetables.

Create a visual poster or goals

Choose a new vegetable or fruit in each grocery store and try it together.

Kids can draw pictures of each new food they try and add it to a poster on the wall. More colors they try, the better.

See if they can fill a rainbow poster to encourage a variety of colored vegetables. Or they could fill in an alphabet chart by finding and tasting vegetables, starting with each letter of the alphabet.

Start your own garden

It doesn’t have to be big. A small pot box or pot on your deck or in the sunny part of your home can encourage children to better understand where their food comes from, and eventually increase their desire to consume these foods.

“We need to get back to basics and teach children where their food comes from. Teaching children to grow and prepare their own products is a great way to increase consumption of these products,

What does this mean for you

Finding a variety of products can be a challenge for many parents. Involving your children in this process and asking about their support can help them feel affirmed and important. It can also be less scary for children when you study together and see an example.