Increasing Fruit and Vegetable Intake among Children and Youth through Gardening-Based Interventions: A Systematic Review

J Acad Nutr Diet. 2017 Feb;117(2):240-250. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2016.10.014. Epub 2016 Dec 7.


Although there are numerous health benefits associated with eating fruit and vegetables (F/V), few children are consuming recommended amounts. Gardening interventions have been implemented in various settings in an effort to increase children's F/V consumption by expanding knowledge, exposure, and preferences for a variety of F/V. The purpose of this review was to identify the effectiveness of gardening interventions that have been implemented to increase F/V consumption among children. A systematic review was conducted using four electronic databases: Web of Science, PubMed, Scopus, and the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature. English language studies conducted in developed countries between January 2005 and October 2015 were included in this review. Included studies measured F/V consumption among children aged 2 to 15 years before and after implementation of a gardening intervention in a school, community, or afterschool setting. All study designs were included in this review. A total of 891 articles were identified through database searching and cross-referencing. After removing duplicates, 650 articles remained and were screened using inclusion and exclusion criteria. Twenty-seven full-text articles were analyzed and 14 articles were included in this review. Of the 14 articles reviewed, 10 articles found statistically significant increases in fruit or vegetable consumption among participants after implementation of a gardening intervention. However, many studies were limited by the use of convenience samples, small sample sizes, and self-reported measurements of F/V consumption. Although the evidence is mixed and fraught with limitations, most studies suggest a small but positive influence of gardening interventions on children's F/V intake. Future studies that include control groups, randomized designs, and assessments of F/V consumption over at least 1 year are needed to advance the literature on this topic.

Keywords: Children; Fruit and vegetables; Gardening; Policy systems and environment; Youth.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet*
  • Fruit*
  • Gardens
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Vegetables*