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. 

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


  • 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

Journal Publications

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.


Research Brief


Open Access Data

Webinar Presentation

Press Release


  • DFC blog by Krystal Rampalli and Pepijn Schreinemachers