Nudging Children Toward Healthier Food Choices: An Experiment Combining School and Home Gardens
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.
- World Vegetable Center
- Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC)
- Asia Network for Sustainable Agriculture and Bioresources (ANSAB)
- Leibniz Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops (IGZ)
- Pepijn Schreinemachers, MSc, PhD, Flagship Program Leader – Enabling Impact; Lead Specialist – Impact Evaluation
Rachana Manandhar Shrestha, MSc, MHSc, PhD,
- Dhruba Raj Bhattarai, MSc, PhD, Senior Scientist (Vegetable Science)
- Ishwori P. Gautam, MSc, PhD, Senior Scientist (Nepal Agricultural Research Council)
- Puspa Lal Ghimire, MA, MBA, Programs Director
- Bhishma P. Subedi, MSc, PhD, Executive Director of Asia Network for Sustainable Agriculture and Bioresources (ANSAB)
- Ghassan Baliki, MA, PhD, Postdoctoral Scientist
- Tilman Brück, MA, PhD, Team Leader – Development Economics and Food Security Research Group
- Schreinemachers P, Baliki G, Shrestha RM, Bhattarai DR, Gautam IP, Ghimire PL, Subedi BP, Brück T. “Nudging children toward healthier food choices: An experiment combining school and home gardens.” Global Food Security. 26 (2020), 100454, ISSN 2211-9124, in press.
- (Book chapter) Schreinemachers P, Yang R-y, Bhattaraj DR, Rai BB, Ouedraogo MS. (2020). “The impact of school gardens on nutrition outcomes in low-income countries.” In D. Hunter, E. M. Oro, B. Burgos, C. N. Rogel, B. Calub, & J. Gonsalves (Eds.), Agrobiodiversity, School Gardens and Healthy Diets: Promoting Biodiversity, Food and Sustainable Nutrition.
Posters & Presentations
- “Promoting healthier food choices among children: an innovative strategy combining school and home gardens” By Schreinemachers P, Baliki G, Shrestha R, Bhattarai D, Ghimire P, Gautam I, Subedhim B, Bruck T. 5th Agriculture, Nutrition & Health (ANH) Academy Week, June 30 – July 2, 2020. ([pdf])
- “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, Hyderabad, India, 24-28 June 2019.
- “Long-term behavioral impact of an integrated home garden intervention in Bangladesh.” By Schreinemachers P, Baliki G, Brück T & Uddin MN. 4th Agriculture, Nutrition & Health (ANH) Academy Week, Hyderabad, India, 24-28 June 2019.
- “Promoting healthier food choices through integrated school gardens in Nepal.” By Schreinemachers P, Bhattarai DR, Shrestha RM, Ghimire PL, Subedi B, Brück T, Baliki G, Gautam IP, Kashichhawa NK, Yang RY. 6th Annual Scientific Symposium on Agriculture-Nutrition Pathways & 25 Years of Nepal’s Progress in Nutrition, Kathmandu, Nepal, 27-29 November 2018.
- “Impact of school gardens on nutrition outcomes in developing countries.” By Schreinemachers P (presenter), Yang RY. 3rd Agriculture, Nutrition & Health (ANH) Academy Week, Accra, Ghana, 25-29 June 2018.
- Schreinemachers P, Shrestha RM, Bhattarai DR, Gautam IP, Ghimire PL, Subedi BP, Baliki G, Brück T. (2020). “Nudging Children Toward Healthier Food Choices: An Experiment Combining School and Home Gardens.”
Open Access Data
- HG4RR Webinar: “School gardens and healthy eating in low-income countries: what does the evidence show?” November 3, 2020
- DFC blog by Krystal Rampalli and Pepijn Schreinemachers