Harvesting more than vegetables: the potential weight control benefits of community gardening

Am J Public Health. 2013 Jun;103(6):1110-5. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2012.301009. Epub 2013 Apr 18.


Objectives: We examined the association of participation in community gardening with healthy body weight.

Methods: We examined body mass index (BMI) data from 198 community gardening participants in Salt Lake City, Utah, in relationship to BMI data for 3 comparison groups: neighbors, siblings, and spouses. In comparisons, we adjusted for gender, age, and the year of the BMI measurement.

Results: Both women and men community gardeners had significantly lower BMIs than did their neighbors who were not in the community gardening program. The estimated BMI reductions in the multivariate analyses were -1.84 for women and -2.36 for men. We also observed significantly lower BMIs for women community gardeners compared with their sisters (-1.88) and men community gardeners compared with their brothers (-1.33). Community gardeners also had lower odds of being overweight or obese than did their otherwise similar neighbors.

Conclusions: The health benefits of community gardening may go beyond enhancing the gardeners' intake of fruits and vegetables. Community gardens may be a valuable element of land use diversity that merits consideration by public health officials who want to identify neighborhood features that promote health.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Female
  • Gardening*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Overweight / prevention & control*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Urban Population
  • Utah
  • Vegetables*