Community Gardening Yields Weight Loss and Better Health
Community gardening is becoming increasingly popular in cities and towns across the United States, and it appears participants are taking home more than fresh vegetables. Several studies show that community gardening yields weight loss and better health for those willing to get their hands a little dirty.
Community gardening equals better weight
In fact, according to Cathleen Zick, professor of family and consumer studies at the University of Utah and the lead author on research on benefits of community gardening, “until now, we did not have data to show a measurable health benefit for those who use the gardens,” including weight loss.
In the study, researchers measured the body mass index of 198 adult community gardeners in Salt Lake City, Utah, and compared the data with three other groups: spouses, siblings, and neighbors. Here’s what the researchers found:
- Body mass index for both men and women community gardeners was significantly lower than that of their siblings and their neighbors
- The authors concluded that “public health officials who want to identify neighborhood features that promote health” should seriously consider community gardens
Community gardening equals more vegetable intake
A team in Colorado surveyed 436 residents in various areas of Denver and evaluated those involved in community gardening, home gardening, or no gardening. Here’s what they found:
- Daily fruit and vegetable consumption was 5.7 times daily for community gardeners, 4.6 for home gardeners, and 3.9 for nongardeners
- Percentages of people who met the US Dietary Guidelines of 5-times-per-day consumption of fruits and vegetables were 56% among community gardeners, 37% of home gardeners, and 25% of nongardeners
These findings suggest that people who are involved in community gardening are more likely to eat more vegetables and fruits.
In a subsequent study by some of the same authors, data from 469 urban residents were evaluated. The reviewers found that people who gardened, when compared with nongardeners, “reported higher ratings of neighborhood aesthetics and more involvement in social activities.” In addition “gardening also directly influenced improved fruit and vegetable intake.”
Yet another study of community and home gardens looked at vegetable intake among San Jose, California, residents, most of whom were low income. Gardeners who participated in 85 community gardens and 50 home gardens completed a survey.
Overall, the researchers found that gardeners met the recommended 5 servings per day of fruits and vegetables. They also noted that home and community gardening “can contribute to food security by helping provide access to fresh vegetables.”
Is there a community garden in your town or city? Participating in community gardening (or home gardening) could provide a real boost to your weight loss efforts, increase your physical exercise, give you more access to vegetables and fruits, and provide a wholesome activity for the entire family.
Also Read: 10 weird ways to save money in the garden
Algert S et al. Community and home gardens increase vegetable intake and food security of residents in San Jose, California. California Agriculture 2016 Apr-Jun; 70(2): 77-82
City Farmer News. Community garden weight loss: gardeners have better weight than neighbors and siblings
Litt JS et al. The influence of social involvement, neighborhood aesthetics, and community garden participation on fruit and vegetable consumption. American Journal of Public Health 2011 Aug; 101(8): 1466-73
Litt JS et al. Exploring ecological, emotional and social levers of self-rated health for urban gardeners and non-gardeners: a path analysis. Social Science & Medicine 2015 Nov; 144:1-8
Zick CD et al. Harvesting more than vegetables: the potential weight control benefits of community gardening. American Journal of Public Health 2013 Jun 23; 103(6): 1110-15
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