Increasing fruit and vegetable intake among children and youth through gardening-based interventions: A systematic review
Most studies show that children eat more fruits and vegetables after participating in a garden-based program
The purpose of this systematic review of the literature was to identify the effectiveness of gardening programs designed to increase fruit and vegetable (F/V) consumption among children. The review included studies published in peer-reviewed journals between January 2005 and October 2015. Only studies measuring children’s F/V consumption before and after they participated in a gardening intervention program were included. Fourteen studies met these criteria.
For this review, gardening-based interventions included any programs involving outside gardens, micro-farms, container gardens, or other gardening methods allowing children to have hands-on experience with planting, growing, and harvesting fruits and/or vegetables. Programs were conducted in a variety of school, after school, and community settings. A quality assessment tool was used to measure the quality of each study included in the review.
While the reviewed studies included children between the age of 2 and 15, most the programs targeted elementary-aged students. The gardening intervention programs ranged in length from 10 weeks to 18 months and were conducted in four different countries: United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada.
Ten of the 14 articles reported statistically significant increases in children’s F/V consumption after participating in a gardening intervention program. The authors caution, however, that many studies had a number of limitations, including the use of convenience samples, small sample sizes, and self-reported measurements of F/V consumption. Yet, the authors indicate that more study is warranted. Such studies, they suggest, should include control groups, randomized designs, and assessments of F/V consumption over a period of at least 1 year. The authors also suggest that gardening intervention programs would do well to include a parenting component and that future research compare the effectiveness of traditional gardening programs with intervention programs that incorporate resources and support for parents.
Savoie-Roskos, M.R., Wengreen, H., Durward, C., (2016). Increasing fruit and vegetable intake among children and youth through gardening-based interventions: A systematic review. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics