The impact of an after-school garden enhanced nutrition education (gene) program on skin carotenoids as a measure of vegetable consumption on diverse, low-income children



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This non-randomized controlled trial was designed to evaluate the impact of the LGEG curriculum on vegetable likeability, skin carotenoid scores, and anthropometric changes among school-aged children participating in the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Houston. Two locations of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Houston were chosen: Havard and Morefield. Children participated in 10 weekly sessions of the Learn, Grow, Eat and Go! curriculum which consisted of gardening, classroom nutrition activities, and sampling of vegetables at each site between Fall of 2021 and Spring of 2022. Vegetable preferences were measured using pre and post questionnaires. A total of 72 of children, 6-13 years old, completed a survey on fruit and vegetable likeability and knowledge of vegetables. Measurement of fruit and vegetable intake was assessed non-invasively via skin carotenoids using the Veggie Meter. Children’s parents were also surveyed about their own perceptions of consuming fruits and vegetables. Crosstabulations using Pearson’s chi-square or Fisher’s exact tests were conducted to compare percentage of each category at baseline and at post-test along with McNemar tests to compare binary variable differences. Repeated measures ANOVAs were then performed to compare carotenoid score and likeability between the groups over time. No significant results (p > 0.05) were noted for changes in fruit and vegetable likeability, skin carotenoid changes, or ability to recognize and identify vegetables as a measure of vegetable knowledge. There were no v differences in BMI between groups. In contrast, significant changes (p=0.03) were seen in the parent’s perception of fruits and vegetables positively impacting health. In conclusion, findings suggest the carry over effect of the GENE Program with school-aged can positively change parental fruit and vegetables perceptions.



Education, Early Childhood