Nudging Children Toward Healthier Food Choices: An experiment Combining School and Home Gardens

Abstract

There is a surge of school garden programs in developing countries, but there is very little evidence to date that such programs drive children to make healthier food choices. While previous studies demonstrated that school gardens can improve children’s knowledge of and preferences for healthier foods, actual improvement in food choices may be constrained by low availability of healthy foods and the overriding influence of caregivers on children’s diets. This project tests the hypothesis that school garden programs can nudge children aged 8-12 toward healthier diets if these constraints are addressed explicitly. The project uses a cluster randomized trial in which 30 schools from one district in Nepal are randomly assigned to a control and intervention group. Stratification is used to achieve balance. The intervention builds on an existing school garden program (including hands-on gardening and nutrition education), but adds a home garden component that trains parents in gardening and nutrition and promotes parents and children to work together to improve family nutrition. Using a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods the study will provide a deeper understanding of the mechanisms through which school-based interventions can influence children’s food choices and thereby contribute to better nutrition intervention designs globally. 

Lead Institution

World Vegetable Center

Collaborating Institutions

Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC), Asia Network for Sustainable Agriculture and Bioresources (ANSAB), Leibniz Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops (IGZ)

Principal Investigator(s)

> Pepijn Schreinemachers, MSc, PhD, Flagship Program Leader – Enabling Impact; Lead Specialist – Impact Evaluation

Co-Investigator(s)

> Ray-yu Yang, MSc, PhD, Nutritionist

> Dhruba Raj Bhattarai, MSc, PhD, Senior Scientist (Vegetable Science)

> Puspa Lal Ghimire, MBA, Programs Director

> Tilman Brück, PhD, Team Leader – Development Economics and Food Security Research Group

> Ghassan Baliki, PhD, Postdoctoral Scientist

Posters and Presentations

“Impact of school gardens on nutrition outcomes in developing countries.” By Schreinemachers, P. (presenter) & Yang, R.-y. 3rd Agriculture, Nutrition & Health (ANH) Academy Week 25 – 29 June 2018 – Accra, Ghana.

Schreinemachers, P., D.R. Bhattarai, R.M. Shrestha, P.L. Ghimire, B. Subedi, T. Brück, G. Baliki, I.P. Gautam, N.K. Kashichhawa, R.-Y. Yang. 2018. “Promoting healthier food choices through integrated school gardens in Nepal.” poster presented at the 6th Annual Scientific Symposium on Agriculture-Nutrition Pathways & 25 Years of Nepal’s Progress in Nutrition, Hotel Yak and Yeti, Kathmandu, 27-29 November 2018.

Drivers of Food Choice” By Blake, CE, Frongillo, EA, Warren, A, Wellard, K, Ickowitz, A, Schreinemachers, P, and Flax, V. 4th Agriculture, Nutrition & Health (ANH) Academy Week, 24 -28 June 2019 -Hyderabad, India.