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


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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    • "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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