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The Impact of Gardening Experiences on Children’s Intake of Vegetables

Authors: Dorothee Benkowitz, Stephanie Schulz and Petra Lindemann-Matthies

Abstract: Fruit and vegetable consumption plays an important role in a healthy diet to prevent nutritional diseases. Nutritionists therefore recommend the intake of five portions of mixed fruit and vegetables a day, excluding potatoes and including only one portion of fruit juice. Research suggests that children’s daily intake of vegetables is lower than recommended, and that garden-based nutrition programmes can foster children’s vegetable consumption and nutrition behaviour. In Germany, however, little is known about primary-school children’s knowledge and intake of vegetables. The current study aimed to investigate children’s knowledge of common vegetables (identification test), their preferences for vegetables, and whether knowledge and preferences were associated with gardening experiences. We presented different vegetables to children (n = 119, mean age = 8.4 years) and asked them about their knowledge, their eating habits and experiences in growing vegetables. The results showed that almost a third of the children correctly identified more than a half of the vegetables presented and also liked to eat them. About 44% of the children enjoyed eating vegetables in general, an answer given nearly twice as often by girls than boys. Experiences in growing vegetables had a positive effect on the intake of vegetables. Although further research is needed, our findings suggest that gardening experiences can foster knowledge and consumption of vegetables, and thus contribute to healthy nutrition behaviour.

Journal: The Journal of Health, Environment, & Education

Volume: 11

Pages: 1-5

Link to the article (pdf)