LA Sprouts: A Garden-Based Nutrition Intervention Pilot Program Influences Motivation and Preferences for Fruits and Vegetables in Latino Youth

Published:April 18, 2012DOI:


      Garden-based approaches to nutrition education may be effective for improving nutrition habits in adolescents. A quasi-experimental, garden-based intervention for Latino youth (LA Sprouts) was piloted and assessed for its influence on behavior associated with dietary intake and psychosocial factors. Study participants were 104 predominately Latino fourth and fifth grade students in Los Angeles (mean age, 9.8±0.7 years; n=70 control subjects, n=34 LA Sprouts participants); more than half (n=61, 59.8%) were overweight or obese (body mass index ≥85th percentile). LA Sprouts participants received an intervention of weekly 90-minute culturally tailored, interactive classes for 12 consecutive weeks at a community garden during the spring of 2010; control participants received an abbreviated delayed intervention. Questionnaire data were obtained before and after the intervention. Compared with control subjects, LA Sprouts participants had an increased preference for vegetables overall, increased preferences for three target fruits and vegetables, as well as improved perceptions that “vegetables from the garden taste better than vegetables from the store.” In the overweight/obese subgroup (n=61), LA Sprouts participants had a 16% greater increase in their preference for vegetables compared with control subjects (P=0.009). Results from this pilot study suggest that a cooking, nutrition, and gardening after-school program in a garden-based setting can improve attitudes and preferences for fruits and vegetables in Latino youth, which may lead to improved nutritional habits and dietary intake and reduced health disparities.


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      N. M. Gatto is with the Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles.


      E. E. Ventura is with the Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.


      L. T. Cook is with the Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.


      L. E. Gyllenhammer is with the Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.


      J. N. Davis is with the Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.