Plant a garden to grow your kids' desire for vegetables and fruit, new study suggests

Apr 19, 2007

If you are looking for a way to encourage your children eat their fruits and vegetables, search no further than your backyard, suggests new Saint Louis University research.

Preschool children in rural areas eat more fruits and vegetables when the produce is homegrown.

"It was a simple, clear finding," said Debra Haire-Joshu, Ph.D., director of Saint Louis University’s Obesity Prevention Center and a study author. "Whether a food is homegrown makes a difference. Garden produce creates what we call a ‘positive food environment.’"

Researchers interviewed about 1,600 parents of preschool-aged children who live in rural southeast Missouri. They found that preschool children who were almost always served homegrown fruits and vegetables were more than twice as likely to eat five servings a day than those who rarely or never ate homegrown produce.

The American Dietetic Association recommends between five and 13 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

In addition, children who grow up eating fresh-from-the-garden produce also prefer the taste of fruits and vegetables to other foods, the parents told researchers.

The study, in the April issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, found the garden-fed children were more likely to see their parents eating fruits and vegetables.

A greater variety of fruits and vegetables – more tomatoes, cantaloupe, broccoli, beans and carrots – also were available in the homes of families who nearly always had homegrown produce.

The implications of the research are important because they point to a simple way of getting kids to eat healthier, Haire-Joshu said. Plant a garden or encourage your school to do so.

"When children are involved with growing and cooking food, it improves their diet," Haire-Joshu said. "Students at schools with gardens learn about math and science and they also eat more fruits and vegetables. Kids eat healthier and they know more about eating healthy. It’s a winning and low-cost strategy to improve the nutrition of our children at a time when the pediatric obesity is an epidemic problem."

Source: Saint Louis University

Explore further: US health officials perplexed by vaccination skeptics

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Many parenting apps are reinforcing the gender divide

Nov 06, 2014

Almost every day, a smartphone app emerges offering some new and exciting functionality. But it's come to my attention that many of these apps are continuing an old trend: they are purveyors of gender-based ...

Antioxidants are essential for bird embryo growth

Oct 16, 2013

(Phys.org) —As children we are told the importance of eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, but now scientists have confirmed that antioxidants found in these food groups are essential for the growth of ...

Slash-and-burn a way of life on Indonesia's Sumatra

Jul 04, 2013

The ground was still hot and smoke hung in the air when Saparina set out to plant her spinach in the ashen remains of rainforest on Indonesia's Sumatra island, where raging fires triggered Southeast Asia's ...

Recommended for you

Patients who smoke want respect from physicians

36 minutes ago

What is it like to be someone who smokes in today's increasingly smoke-free world? How can providers best interact with their patients who smoke and support their efforts to become tobacco-free? A new study by researchers ...

Make your diet anti-inflammatory with a few easy changes

48 minutes ago

Use your search engine or explore a local bookstore, and you'll find a wide variety of anti-inflammatory diet books. This eating approach is promoted to reduce everything from heart disease to asthma, and often requires you ...

Getting enough sleep really isn't optional

56 minutes ago

The typical adult needs 7 to 7 1/2 hours of sleep each night, while for teenagers and young adults under 25 about 9 to 10 hours of sleep per night is recommended, says Ann Romaker, MD, director of the University ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.