Examing parental gardening experience and child vegetable consumption

Kerry Meath, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Introduction: Gardens are being employed as important levers to increase vegetable consumption and reduce obesity in children. Gardening experience among children has been associated with increases in their vegetable consumption, but no peer-reviewed literature has explored the relationship between parental gardening and child vegetable consumption. Two primary hypotheses were explored in this study. 1) Parents who report current or previous gardening experience will be more likely to be married, have a higher level of education, and higher socio-economic status compared with those who reported no experience. 2) Children with parents who report current or previous gardening experience will report significantly higher intake of vegetables compared to children whose parents do not have current or previous gardening experience. Methods: 292 3rd grade students enrolled at 13 low-income schools across 4 counties in Texas (Houston, Brazos County, Corpus Christi and Dallas) and their guardians (93% parents; 9% male; 91% female) each completed a self-report survey. This represents 39.8% of the total data collected for the TGEG study. The child survey included items measuring vegetable intake (5 items), vegetable preference (20 items), whether or not he/she had tasted certain vegetables (n=20) and gardening experience (5 items). The parent survey included items measuring gardening experience (1 item), garden maintenance (1 item), gardening experience (4 items), and demographic items. Hypothesis one was examined by using an unadjusted t-test or ANOVA analysis to compare means of number of vegetable eaten, tasted and liked, across 2 groups of children based on parental gardening experience (yes/no) or 3 groups based on parental gardening activities (3 categories). These were subsequently examined via regression analyses adjusting for potential confounders identified in hypothesis two as significantly related to parental gardening through chi-square tests (education, marital status, SES, ethnicity). Results: Compared to children whose parents reported not participating in gardening activities with them in the last school year, children whose parents reporting engaging in 3 or more gardening activities with them in the last school year did not report increased levels of vegetable consumption (p=0.77), and did not taste or like a greater number of vegetables (p=0.15). Child vegetable intake did not vary based on previous parental gardening experience(p=0.31). Being married, more highly educated, White, and of a higher socio-economic status were positively associated with parental gardening experience. Conclusion: Findings confirm the hypothesis that parental demographics are associated with parental gardening experience. However, these results indicate that parental gardening experience and the number of activities parents reported participating in with their children, was not associated with child vegetable consumption.

Subject Area

Public health

Recommended Citation

Meath, Kerry, "Examing parental gardening experience and child vegetable consumption" (2013). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1549103.