The associations between cooking and gardening behaviors and determinants of behavior with dietary intake and obesity in low-income, Hispanic youth
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Childhood obesity and obesity-related diseases are major problems in the United States and disproportionately affect Hispanic youth and children from low socioeconomic status households. This population has limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and consumption of fruits and vegetables have been shown to prevent weight gain and may reduce the risk of obesity. Current literature shows that cooking and gardening are associated with increased fruit and vegetable preferences and intake. School cooking and gardening programs show promise in improving dietary intake in children. The purpose of this cross-sectional research was to identify associations between cooking and gardening behaviors and determinants of behavior (attitudes, self-efficacy, and motivation) and subsequent fruit and vegetable intake in low-income, minority youth who participated in school-based cooking and gardening interventions. The first aim was to examine the association between changes in cooking and gardening behaviors and determinants of behavior with changes in dietary fiber intake, vegetable intake, body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference in participants of the LA Sprouts randomized controlled intervention. The second aim was to examine the baseline relationship between child cooking involvement and parental support in food preparation with vegetable exposure, vegetable preference, vegetable intake, and BMI from participants of the Texas! Grow! Eat! Go! group-randomized controlled intervention. The third aim was to examine the baseline relationship between cooking and gardening behaviors and determinants of behavior (attitudes and self-efficacy) with fruit and vegetable intake in participants of the TX Sprouts randomized controlled intervention. All analyses were conducted using data from primarily low-income and Hispanic youth. The results of this research demonstrated that cooking and gardening behaviors and determinants of behavior are positively associated with fruit and vegetable intake in this population, suggesting that improving cooking and gardening skills and determinants of behavior in children through school cooking and gardening programs may be an effective means to improve their dietary intake.