Development and evaluation of a nutrition and gardening education curriculum for parents of elementary school children in Van Nuys, California

Childhood obesity rates are on the rise globally, nationally, and in California. Researchers have examined the impact nutrition and gardening education can have on reducing childhood obesity rates. The project presented was a four-week nutrition and gardening curriculum for parents that was implemented in three elementary schools (Cohasset, Gault, Anatola) in Van Nuys, CA. A total of 8 lessons (4 nutrition and 4 gardening) were taught at each school. The lessons were provided in Spanish to the parents at the Parent Center of the schools once a week. This project assessed parental interest in the nutrition and gardening curriculum, usefulness of topics, measured dietary changes and obtained information about preparation of healthy recipes introduced by the program via formative and summative surveys. Six out of 8 topics, and 9 out of 12 topics were useful to > 50% of parents at Cohasset and Gault, respectively. More than 70% of parents at Gault found all nutrition and gardening topics interesting. Also, more than 50% of parents in Cohasset adopted a few healthier habits such as paying attention to portion sizes, consuming less salt, sugar, and fat, as a result of their participation in the program. More than 50% of parents adopted many healthier habits as a result of the programs at Gault. By the third lesson, 90% of parents at Gault reported that they had prepared at least one of the recipes presented in this program. Anatola parents were not surveyed due to lack of consistent participation. Although results were favorable, a next step to help solidify findings would be to implement and evaluate this program at another low-income community.