Garden-enhanced intervention improved BMI and nutrition knowledge of California students

May 8, 2017, Elsevier

The factors that affect rates of childhood obesity are complex. For example, parent feeding practices have been shown to be influential, but that influence has also been shown to change with age. Factors such as access to fruits and vegetables and the availability of safe space for physical exercise have also been associated with a risk for obesity. Because schools can act as a focal point for engaging students, families, educators, administrators, and community members, researchers implemented and evaluated a multicomponent, school-based nutrition intervention in an attempt to improve children's dietary behaviors and prevent childhood obesity. Their results are published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

The Shaping Healthy Choices Program (SHCP) was implemented in four schools in two California districts, with 179 fourth grade students (aged 9-10 years) serving as controls and 230 as part of the . During the program, which extended over one academic year, students engaged in classroom enhanced by gardens established at the schools, harvested vegetables for cooking demonstrations, and shared the harvest with their families. In addition, newsletters corresponding to lessons were sent home, health fairs were held at , salad bars were installed in schools, and school wellness committees were established.

As a result of SCHP implementation, students participating in the intervention demonstrated significant improvements in knowledge and vegetable identification compared to control students. However, vegetable preference and fruit and vegetable intake did not improve, nor did general or dietary parenting practices significantly change. However, significant positive changes were observed in body measurements.

"The BMI and waist-to-height ratio were greatly improved in intervention groups, with the overweight or obese population declining from 55.6 to 37.8% at the Northern California intervention school," lead author Rachel Scherr, PhD, said. "The dramatic decrease in BMI, although unexpected in this short time frame, demonstrated that the SHCP was effective due to positive health messages and reinforcing nutrition concepts throughout the school and home environments."

By focusing on message reinforcement and connections to community, the researchers were able to achieve significant improvements in health-related outcomes. These encouraging results suggest that large-scale adoption through partnerships with Cooperative Extensions may positively impact rates. However, future studies should continue to use the SHCP in order to obtain data and further refine the .

Explore further: School nutrition and wellness program improves eating habits, lowers BMI

More information: Rachel E. Scherr et al, A Multicomponent, School-Based Intervention, theShaping Healthy Choices Program , Improves Nutrition-Related Outcomes, Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.jneb.2016.12.007

Related Stories

School nutrition and wellness program improves eating habits, lowers BMI

April 29, 2014
Can we fight childhood obesity by telling kids to eat more, not less? Researchers behind a new comprehensive school nutrition and wellness program say you get further by offering kids a carrot—literally, in this case—by ...

How to get kids to use salad bars in public schools

March 8, 2017
Thanks to a national initiative, salad bars are showing up in public schools across the country. Now a Brigham Young University researcher is trying to nail down how to get kids to eat from them.

Healthy Choices program for middle schoolers helps reduce obesity, encourage healthy habits

August 26, 2015
An interdisciplinary school program designed to promote healthy behaviors reduced the percentage of 7th graders who were overweight or obese and helped more than 20,000 middle school students cut back on TV viewing, increase ...

Report finds differences in obesity risk factors for children attending schools in disadvantaged areas

November 10, 2016
There are significant differences in risk factors contributing to childhood obesity among children attending schools in disadvantaged areas compared to pupils attending other schools, according to a Health Services Executive-commissioned ...

Healthier diets possible in low-income, rural communities in America

October 11, 2013
In the United States, children don't eat enough fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Instead, their diets typically include excessive amounts of sugars and solid fats, counter to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans ...

After-school exercise and nutrition programs can help reduce childhood obesity

June 18, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Research has shown that children from low-income neighborhoods are at higher risk of being obese and overweight than children from affluent neighborhoods; in fact, one-third of low-income children enter ...

Recommended for you

Obesity rates keep rising for U.S. adults

March 23, 2018
Obesity rates have continued to climb significantly among American adults, but the same hasn't held true for children, a new government report finds.

Early studies of male birth-control pill show promise

March 23, 2018
Well, well, well. The ball has been knocked roundly into your court, gentlemen.

Whether sustained or sporadic, exercise offers same reductions in death risk

March 22, 2018
For decades, Americans have been inundated with a confusing barrage of messages about how best to counteract the health risks of sedentary lifestyles: walk 10,000 steps a day; do a seven-minute workout from a phone app; flip ...

Obesity trigger identified within the human gut

March 22, 2018
The key chemical for happiness and sadness, serotonin, is also a force in our body's weight gain and calorie control, and scientists say more research could reduce obesity rates.

Tai chi as good as or better than aerobic exercise for managing chronic pain

March 21, 2018
The ancient martial art of tai chi has similar or greater benefits than aerobic exercise for people with the chronic pain condition fibromyalgia, finds a trial published by The BMJ today.

Study: Poor health is a less common cause of bankruptcy than commonly thought, but it brings other economic woes

March 21, 2018
A team of researchers led by an MIT economist has found that medical expenses account for roughly 4 percent of bankruptcy filings among nonelderly adults in the U.S.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.