Evidence demonstrates that a gardening and nutrition intervention improves dietary intake in children, although no study has evaluated the effect of this type of intervention on obesity measures. The objective of this pilot study was to develop and test the effects of a 12-week, after-school gardening, nutrition, and cooking program (called LA Sprouts) on dietary intake and obesity risk in Latino fourth- and fifth-grade students in Los Angeles, CA. One hundred four primarily Latino children (mean age 9.8±0.7 years), 52% boys and 59% overweight, completed the program (n=70 controls, n=34 LA Sprouts participants). Weight, height, body mass index, waist circumference, body fat (via bioelectrical impendence), blood pressure, and dietary intake (via food frequency screener) were obtained at baseline and postintervention. LA Sprouts participants received weekly 90-minute, culturally tailored, interactive classes for 12 consecutive weeks during spring 2010 at a nearby community garden, whereas control participants received an abbreviated delayed intervention. Compared to subjects in the control group, LA Sprouts participants had increased dietary fiber intake (+22% vs -12%; P=0.04) and decreased diastolic blood pressure (-5% vs -3%; P=0.04). For the overweight subsample, LA Sprouts participants had a significant change in dietary fiber intake (0% vs -29%; P=0.01), reduction in body mass index (-1% vs +1%; P=0.04) and less weight gain (+1% vs +4%; P=0.03) compared to those in the control group. We conclude that a gardening, nutrition, and cooking intervention is a promising approach to improve dietary intake and attenuate weight gain in Latino children, particularly in those who are overweight.
Copyright © 2011 American Dietetic Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.