The aim of this study was to examine gender differences in the impact of a school garden and nutrition curriculum on fruit and vegetable intake, willingness to taste, and taste ratings in 127 children (11 to 12 years, 54% boys) in regional New South Wales, Australia. Classes were assigned to wait-list control, nutrition education only (NE), or nutrition education plus garden (NE + G) groups. Carrot taste rating was the only vegetable for which there was a significant gender difference, with girls rating it more highly (p = .04). There were no significant gender differences in fruit and vegetable consumption or willingness to taste scores for any other vegetables. There was a group effect (p < .001) for overall willingness to taste, overall taste rating, and the taste rating of pea and broccoli (p < .001), tomato (p = .03), and lettuce (p = .02). In the post hoc analysis by gender, both boys and girls in NE + G and NE groups were more willing to taste vegetables compared with control boys and girls postintervention (p < .001, p = .02). Boys in the NE + G group were more willing to taste all vegetables overall compared with NE boys at posttest (p = .05) and this approached significance for girls (p = .07). For overall tasting scores, a group effect was seen in girls only (p = .05). No significant treatment-time effect was found for vegetable intake in either gender. Further research is needed to examine whether a school garden, with or without school curriculum components, can be used to optimize fruit and vegetable intakes, particularly in boys.
Health Education & Behavior Vol. 39, Issue 2, p. 131-141