Growing Healthy Kids

Growing Healthy Kids was an obesity prevention program for low-income families in Carrboro, North Carolina that aimed to increase children’s access to and consumption of fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables, helping them to achieve or maintain a healthy body weight for their age and height. To determine the best strategies for this program, a literature review was conducted, revealing that in many previous case studies, individuals who participated in community gardens consumed more fruits and vegetables than those who did not. As a result of this research, three community gardens were established and became the focal point of the Growing Healthy Kids program, providing families with the opportunity to grow their own fresh vegetables. Weekly gardening work sessions were designed to give participants hands-on experience tending to the garden with the help of experienced staff. These sessions were complemented by a seven-week workshop series on cooking and nutrition, providing families with information and resources that would help them to make healthy food choices. Additionally, a newsletter was published in both English and Spanish to highlight the work of the gardeners and provide participants with healthy recipes and information on common gardening issues. To foster a sense of community at the gardens and bring participants together, social activities and events such as potluck dinners, garden meetings, and birdhouse building workshops were planned throughout the year. These social gatherings also provided the program team with opportunities to collect data as they brought all of the families together in an easy-to-access location. To measure the program’s impact on helping children achieve or maintain a healthy body weight, the height, weight, date of birth, and gender of each child was recorded pre-and post-intervention, allowing for each child’s BMI to be calculated. To gather data on each child’s access to and consumption of fruits and vegetables, surveys were administered to parents at baseline and again at the end of each year that the family participated. Over the course of three growing seasons, 17% of obese or overweight children had improved their BMI classification, 100% of children with a normal BMI classification maintained that classification, and the average number of servings of fruit eaten by participating children increased by 28%. 
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McKenzie-Mohr & Associates

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