Community Gardens' Role in Pediatric Nutrition
von Ahn, Erick
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Session presented on Thursday, September 25, 2014: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) obesity rates have climbed over the past 30 years. Currently, one-third of children in the U.S. are overweight or obese (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2014). The likelihood of being obese as an adult is 70% higher for obese children (Obesity Action Coalition, 2014). Pediatric obesity increases the risks for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma, gastrointestinal inflammatory pathologies, cancer, premature menarche, psychiatric and social pathologies (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2014; Ohio Department of Health, 2008; Allison & Hyde, 2013; McIntyre, 2011; Wiskin, Owens, Cornelious, Wooton & Beatier, 2012). Poverty is a risk factor for obesity (Edmunds, Chiasson, Stratton & Davison, 2014). Many low income families live in food deserts where access to healthy food is limited (Muamba, Clark & Taggart, 2010). In 2008 the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) reported Cuyahoga County, Ohio had a lower median income than the state, and nation. The CDC reported in 2013 that high school children are averaging 1 serving of fruit and 1.3 servings of vegetables daily (National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion: Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, 2013). Community gardens have been utilized effectively to help overweight and obese children improve their body mass index (Castro, Samuels & Harmon, 2013). Exposing children to gardening and healthy food preparation at a young age increases a preference for vegetables (Cramer, 2012). Community gardens provide fruits and vegetables to families who previously lacked access (Barnidge, Hipp, Estlund, Duggan, Barnhart & Brownson, 2013). Community gardens increase fruit and vegetable consumption, physical activity, and increase psychological and spiritual health (Stein, 2008; Flachs, 2010; Twiss, Dickinson, Duma, Kleinman, Paulsen & Rilveria, 2003). Community gardeners also eat more vegetables than home-gardeners (Litt, Soobader, Turbin, Hale, Buchenau, & Marshall, 2011). Community gardens are a holistic approach to promote pediatric nutrition and wellness.