Publication spotlight: “School-based gardening, cooking, and nutrition intervention increased vegetable intake”

Published: February 18, 2022

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The publication “School-based gardening, cooking, and nutrition intervention increased vegetable intake but did not reduce BMI: Texas sprouts - a cluster randomized controlled trial” discusses the results of a school-based intervention named Texas Sprouts. Center Faculty Drs. Alexandra van den Berg, Adriana Perez, and Deanna Hoelscher contributed to this study, which was led by Dr. Jaimie Davis of UT Austin.

The goal of this study was to conduct a one-year, cluster randomized control trial in elementary schools to examine the effect Texas Sprouts had on 3rd-5th grade children’s dietary intake, obesity outcomes, and blood pressure.

The study’s intervention was one school year long (9 months) and consisted of: 1) a 0.25-acre outdoor teaching garden; 2) 18 student gardening, nutrition, and cooking lessons taught by trained educators throughout the school-year; 3) nine monthly garden/cooking/nutrition parent lessons; and 4) a school-based Garden Leadership Committee (consisting of interested teachers, parents, children, and staff).

The child outcomes measured were physical body measurements (body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and body fat percentage via bioelectrical impedance), blood pressure measurements, and dietary intake measurements (vegetable, fruit, and sugar-sweetened beverages) via an adapted version of the School Physical Activity and Nutrition (SPAN) survey.

The Texas Sprouts school-based gardening, nutrition, and cooking program did not significantly reduce obesity markers or blood pressure, but it did result in increased vegetable intake. One possible reason that this intervention may not have reduced obesity markers or blood pressure is that the intervention was not long enough. If this intervention was implemented over a longer period of time, and children continue to increase consumption of vegetables as noted in this study, then this could potentially lead to reductions in obesity markers and blood pressure. 

Learn more about Texas Sprouts online here.

Read the publication online here.