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Gardening, Cooking, Nutrition Intervention at Schools Is Beneficial

Reduction in mean hemoglobin A1c and decrease in mean LDL-C seen among children in low-income elementary schools

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 11, 2023 (HealthDay News) — A gardening, nutrition, and cooking intervention can improve glucose control and reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in school children, according to a study published online Jan. 10 in JAMA Network Open.

Jaimie N. Davis, Ph.D., R.D., from the University of Texas at Austin, and colleagues examined the effects of a school-based gardening, nutrition, and cooking intervention (Texas Sprouts) on changes in metabolic outcomes among elementary school children in a secondary analysis of a cluster randomized controlled trial conducted at low-income schools. Sixteen elementary schools were randomly assigned to the Texas Sprouts intervention (composed of a Garden Leadership Committee formation; an outdoor teaching garden; 18 student gardening, nutrition, and cooking lessons throughout the school year; and nine monthly parent lessons) or a delayed intervention (eight schools in each arm).

The final analytic sample included 695 children. The researchers found that children from Texas Sprouts schools had a 0.02 percent reduction in mean hemoglobin A1c and a 6.40-mg/dL decrease in mean low-density lipoprotein cholesterol compared with children from control schools. No intervention effects were seen on glucose, insulin, hemostatic model assessment of insulin resistance, or other lipid parameters.

“These findings provide direct evidence to help encourage policy makers, administrators, and school district personnel to adopt and/or support garden-based learning into elementary schools,” the authors write.

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