Objective: The healthcare cost of every U.S. obese child over a lifetime is $19,000 more than his/her normal-weight counterpart. These financial costs are in addition to the devastating emotional, physical, and medical consequences of obesity. Childhood obesity remains a significant health issue, especially in disparate populations and during the summer months, when millions of children lose access to school-based feeding programs and suffer gaps in meals contributing to an obesogenic environment. The objective of this study is to test the efficacy of a summer comprehensive garden-based behavioral, social, and environmental intervention for children residing in low-resource communities.
Description: We will conduct a two-arm randomized controlled trial in low-resource children and parent/adult caregiver (PAC). A total of 240 children (ages 8–11 years) will be randomized to the garden-based intervention or an enhanced control group. The intervention consists of weekly group education, produce harvesting, remote motivational interviewing, and novel e-technologies. Assessments for both groups will be collected at orientation (week 0) and immediately following the completion of the intervention (week 10) by trained personnel that are blinded to participants' treatment arm assignment. Data on program satisfaction, quality of life, and family engagement will be collected via surveys. Anthropometrics, physical activity, and skin carotenoids will be measured objectively.
Evaluation: The current project will evaluate the efficacy of a garden-based intervention aimed at promoting modifiable lifestyle behaviors (diet and physical activity) and improving child-PAC interactions to promote an anti-obesogenic environment for low-resource families during the summer months. We anticipate that compared to control, garden youths will exhibit greater improvements in fruit and vegetable intake; physical activity, quality of life, and indices of health; and child-PAC interactions.
Conclusions and Implications: The information gleaned from this project will be used to inform, educate, and empower families and to establish a best practice-based summer obesity prevention model, built upon replicable criteria that can be implemented on a national scale.
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