Garden based learning and food choices of second graders.
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SubjectNutrition -- Study and teaching (Elementary).; Obesity in children.; Gardening -- Study and teaching (Elementary).; School children -- Food.
The question addressed in this study is: Does involvement in garden based learning positively impact the food choices of second grade students? This study was conducted in a suburban elementary school in Western New York State. Two-second grade classrooms participated for a total of 34 students. Students were divided into groups of gardening (G) and non-gardening (NG) students. Taste tests were administered to students in the G group to determine vegetable preference; this method was modeled after a study conducted by Birch and Sullivan (1991). The food choices of students in both groups were monitored during lunch periods using a method modeled after Swanson's (2008) study. Still digital photographs of students’ lunch trays were taken before and after eating. Using the photographs a score was calculated relating to established food categories for each lunch. The results of the study indicate that garden based learning alone did not appear to have an influence on student’s food choice. Additional findings also indicated that students in both the G and NG groups consumed large amounts of food with little or no nutritional value during the school lunch period. The data in this study shows that students generally lacked options of healthy choices in both home and cafeteria lunches; therefore they were often unable to choose items of high nutritional value.
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