Offering children access to gardening schemes helps to encourage healthier eating habits.
That is the conclusion of a study by Dr Michael Duncan and colleagues from Coventry University who enrolled 46 nine- and ten-year-olds in a project to build a garden at their school. The participants also had science lessons relating to plants and growth and were asked to write about their experiences. In addition, they were given cookery classes.
The project lasted for 12 weeks after which time it was found those involved ate over a quarter (26%) more fruit and vegetables than they had done previously. A control group – who had not taken part in the garden scheme – were also asked to complete a questionnaire into their eating habits. There was no change in their diet.
Both groups had their BMI measured, but no difference was noted in either set once the project was completed.
Commenting on the outcome, 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.”
He explained further studies were required to test whether the habits learnt during the project would last a lifetime. The research will be presented today (8 May) at the British Psychological Society’s annual conference.
(Source: The British Psychological Society)