Article

LA Sprouts: A Gardening, Nutrition, and Cooking Intervention for Latino Youth Improves Diet and Reduces Obesity

Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA.
Journal of the American Dietetic Association (Impact Factor: 3.92). 08/2011; 111(8):1224-30. DOI: 10.1016/j.jada.2011.05.009
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

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.

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    • "Community gardens, " single pieces of land gardened collectively (Anon., 2007), " have demonstrated multifaceted public health benefits. Recent meta-analyses and empirical studies have shown that community gardens are capable of increasing fruit and vegetable intake (Alaimo et al., 2008; Litt et al., 2011; McCormack et al., 2010; Robinson-O'Brien et al., 2009; Langellotto and Gupta, 2012), providing a venue for increased physical activity (Harris, 2009), lowering Body Mass Index and blood pressure in adults (Zick et al., 2013) and children (Davis et al., 2011) and treating chronic diseases (Weltin, 2013). Community gardens have also improved neighborhood social capital by fostering intergenerational and cross-cultural interactions, enabling the sharing of food production knowledge, improving neighborhood aesthetics, decreasing crime, and increasing property values (Anon., 2007; Twiss et al., 2003). "
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    ABSTRACT: Community gardens can reduce public health disparities through promoting physical activity and healthy eating, growing food for underserved populations, and accelerating healing from injury or disease. Despite their potential to contribute to comprehensive patient care, no prior studies have investigated the prevalence of community gardens affiliated with US healthcare institutions, and the demographic characteristics of communities served by these gardens. In 2013, national community garden databases, scientific abstracts, and public search engines (e.g., Google Scholar) were used to identify gardens. Outcomes included the prevalence of hospital-based community gardens by US regions, and demographic characteristics (age, race/ethnicity, education, household income, and obesity rates) of communities served by gardens. There were 110 healthcare-based gardens, with 39 in the Midwest, 25 in the South, 24 in the Northeast, and 22 in the West. Compared to US population averages, communities served by healthcare-based gardens had similar demographic characteristics, but significantly lower rates of obesity (27% versus 34%, p < .001). Healthcare-based gardens are located in regions that are demographically representative of the US population, and are associated with lower rates of obesity in communities they serve.
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    • "The increase in urban food production has been associated with a wide range of benefits. From a public health perspective, urban agriculture has been linked to improved nutrition, higher levels of physical activity, benefits associated with exposure to nature, and increased food security (Davis et al., 2011; Park et al., 2011; Carney et al., 2012, Alaimo et al., 2015, Gonzalez et al., 2015; Smith, 2015). Social benefits, including improved understanding of natural processes and increased social capitol, have also been documented (Okvat and Zautra, 2011; Carney et al., 2012; Pencke, 2015). "
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    ABSTRACT: Urban agriculture is growing in cities across the United States. It has the potential to provide multiple benefits, including increased food security. Concerns about soil contamination in urban areas can be an impediment to urban agriculture. Lead is the most common contaminant in urban areas. In this paper, direct (soil ingestion via outdoor and indoor exposure) and indirect (consumption of food grown in Pb-contaminated soils) exposure pathways are reviewed. It is highly unlikely that urban agriculture will increase incidences of elevated blood Pb for children in urban areas. This is due to the high likelihood that agriculture will improve soils in urban areas, resulting in reduced bioavailability of soil Pb and reduced fugitive dust. Plant uptake of Pb is also typically very low. The exceptions are low-growing leafy crops where soil-splash particle contamination is more likely and expanded hypocotyl root vegetables (e.g., carrot). However, even with higher bioaccumulation factors, it is not clear that the Pb in root vegetables or any other crops will be absorbed after eating. Studies have shown limited absorption of Pb when ingested with food. Best management practices to assure minimal potential for exposure are also common practices in urban gardens. These include the use of residuals-based composts and soil amendments and attention to keeping soil out of homes. This review suggests that benefits associated with urban agriculture far outweigh any risks posed by elevated soil Pb.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · Journal of Environmental Quality
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    • "Our results are consistent with low-income garden participants responding to reduced access to resources by selecting crops that provide edible ES, and not investing in ornamentals (Figs. 4, 7), though individual participant motivations were not quantified. Food crops may improve gardener livelihoods through providing basic food needs and promoting cultural expression (Alaimo et al. 2008; Davis et al. 2011; Clarke et al. 2014b). Fig. 8 Average Jaccard's dissimilarity between gardens for major species uses (all, edible, ornamental). "
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    ABSTRACT: Context Urban community gardens are globally prevalent urban agricultural areas and have the potential to fulfill human needs in impoverished neighborhoods, such as food security and access to open space. Despite these benefits, little research has been conducted evaluating environmental and socioeconomic factors influencing community garden plant biodiversity and ecosystem services (ES). Objective Our study investigated the drivers of managed plant richness, abundance, and ES production in community gardens across Los Angeles County, CA from 2010 to 2012 at regional, garden, and plot scales. Methods Fourteen community gardens were visited in the summers of 2010–2012 for comprehensive species surveys across regional, garden, and plot scales. We compared biodiversity to household income, plot size, and gardener ethnicity. Results In total, 707 managed plant species were recorded in summer surveys over a 3-year period. Ornamental plant richness increased with neighborhood income, while edible and medicinal richness increased with size of garden plots. Gardener ethnicity also influenced the composition of managed species, especially edible species. Conclusions We explain these patterns through a hierarchy of needs framework; gardeners preferentially plant species progressively less connected to human need. Ornamental plant increases in high-income regions may be explained by their requirement for financial investment and maintenance time. Cultural and provisioning ES are important for immigrant populations, resulting in ethnically distinct crop assemblages. Finally, distinct species–area relationships imply high demand for food abundance and biodiversity. Our quantitative results indicate that community gardens contribute to a biologically diverse urban ecosystem and provide valued ecosystem services in food insecure regions.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2015 · Landscape Ecology
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