School gardens promote health eating: study

garden pic 4.jpg

Our Gardening program at Little Scholars is proving to be having a lasting impact.

A published study from the Australian Catholic University and the University of Texas has found school gardens can give an incentive for kids to eat healthy.

“We discovered that children who are involved with school gardens eat more vegetables and fruit,” said associate professor Shawn Somerset, an expert in nutrition and health from ACU. “We also found that these children are willing to taste and cook a greater variety of vegetables and fruit and demonstrate improved behaviour both at home and in the classroom.”

During the study, the researchers assessed 13 school garden programs in Australia and the US, to examine their effects on children’s dietary behaviours and identify useful strategies for healthy eating. The school gardens examined were for students from kindergarten to Year 8.

Six of the programs helped increase vegetable intake in kids, whereas four had no effect. Seven of the eight studies that examined kids’ food preferences found school gardens helped make kids want to eat their vegetables.

Somerset said that, overall, school gardens had a positive effect on kids’ health and helps them be more environmentally aware. He also said further research is needed into achieving long-term improvements in dietary behaviours, and encouraged educators to establish school-garden programs.