The Impact of a School Garden and Cooking Program on Boys’ and Girls’ Fruit and Vegetable Preferences, Taste Rating, and Intake
AbstractThe aim of this study was to examine gender differences in the impact of a school garden and nutrition curriculum on fruit and vegetable intake, willingness to taste, and taste ratings in 127 children (11 to 12 years, 54% boys) in regional New South Wales, Australia. Classes were assigned to wait-list control, nutrition education only (NE), or nutrition education plus garden (NE + G) groups. Carrot taste rating was the only vegetable for which there was a significant gender difference, with girls rating it more highly (p = .04). There were no significant gender differences in fruit and vegetable consumption or willingness to taste scores for any other vegetables. There was a group effect (p < .001) for overall willingness to taste, overall taste rating, and the taste rating of pea and broccoli (p < .001), tomato (p = .03), and lettuce (p = .02). In the post hoc analysis by gender, both boys and girls in NE + G and NE groups were more willing to taste vegetables compared with control boys and girls postintervention (p < .001, p = .02). Boys in the NE + G group were more willing to taste all vegetables overall compared with NE boys at posttest (p = .05) and this approached significance for girls (p = .07). For overall tasting scores, a group effect was seen in girls only (p = .05). No significant treatment-time effect was found for vegetable intake in either gender. Further research is needed to examine whether a school garden, with or without school curriculum components, can be used to optimize fruit and vegetable intakes, particularly in boys.