Impact of garden-based youth nutrition intervention programs: a review

J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Feb;109(2):273-80. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2008.10.051.


Garden-based nutrition-education programs for youth are gaining in popularity and are viewed by many as a promising strategy for increasing preferences and improving dietary intake of fruits and vegetables. This review examines the scientific literature on garden-based youth nutrition intervention programs and the impact on nutrition-related outcomes. Studies published between 1990 and 2007 were identified through a library search of databases and an examination of reference lists of relevant publications. Studies were included if they involved children and adolescents in the United States and examined the impact of garden-based nutrition education on fruit and/or vegetable intake, willingness to taste fruits and vegetables, preferences for fruits and vegetables, or other nutrition-related outcomes. Only articles published in peer-reviewed journals in English were included in the review. Eleven studies were reviewed. Five studies took place on school grounds and were integrated into the school curriculum, three studies were conducted as part of an afterschool program, and three studies were conducted within the community. Studies included youth ranging in age from 5 to 15 years. Findings from this review suggest that garden-based nutrition intervention programs may have the potential to promote increased fruit and vegetable intake among youth and increased willingness to taste fruits and vegetables among younger children; however, empirical evidence in this area is relatively scant. Therefore, there is a need for well-designed, evidenced-based, peer-reviewed studies to determine program effectiveness and impact. Suggestions for future research directions, including intervention planning, study design, evaluation, and sustainability are provided.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Nutrition Sciences / education*
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet / standards
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Food Preferences / psychology*
  • Fruit*
  • Gardening / education*
  • Gardening / methods
  • Health Education
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Schools
  • Students / psychology
  • Vegetables*