School-based gardening schemes can increase the amount of fruit and vegetables school children eat. This is the finding of research by Dr Michael Duncan and colleagues at Coventry University presented today, Thursday 8 May 2014, at the British Psychological Society annual conference at the International Convention Centre, Birmingham.
Forty-six children aged between nine and ten years old took part in a twelve week school-based project to create a garden. As well as building the garden the children also had lessons devoted to cooking, plants and growth (in science) and writing (in literacy). Thirty-one children from a separate school acted as a control group.
Before and after the project the children completed questionnaires about their eating habits and had BMI measurements recorded. The results showed that children who took part in the school-based gardening project ate 26 per cent more fruit and vegetables. Neither group showed a change in their BMI.
Dr Duncan said: "It seems that encouraging children to see the benefits of healthy eating through integrated school projects could help to entrench healthy eating behaviour.
Perhaps by involving the whole class in the programme it helped to enmesh this as part of their daily school lives and ultimately in their lives overall. Further research would be required to see whether these habits become lifelong."
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