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Implementing and Testing a Model to Reduce Obesity Indices in Rural Families Through Nutrition Education and Hydroponic Gardening (NEHG)

Anderson, Melinda
Tennessee Technological University
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End date
  1. To determine cost effective strategies for using hydroponic gardening in high school vocational classrooms to; produce vegetables for rural adolescents and their families. a. collect data on the variety and yield of vegetables grown b. assess cost effectiveness and sustainability procedures c. develop procedures related to food safety and sanitation, food preparation and storage of vegetables grown hydroponically
  2. To determine the impact of class-produced hydroponically grown vegetables on obesity indices in participants. a. collect data on height, weight, food intake and food habits b. collect demographic information c. compare data of participants to non-participants d. collect information on how families will sustain changes in vegetable consumption
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NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: Obesity is a serious medical crisis in the United States. Prevention of obesity in children and adults is a national priority of several federal initiatives including Healthy People 2010, and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Tennessee Technological University, in partnership with a rural Tennessee high school, proposes to test a strategy for increasing vegetable intake and reducing obesity measures in rural adolescents and their families through the use of hydroponic gardening in a vocational classroom. Specifically, the cost effectiveness of hydroponic gardening to produce enough vegetables to significantly increase vegetable intake will be studied. The impact of consuming hydroponically-grown vegetables on two obesity measures (Body Mass Index and blood pressure) will be determined. High school vocational students and their parents who participate in this study will complete food records and food surveys at regular intervals during the two year study, and be measured for Body Mass Index and blood pressure. High school vocational students will learn to maintain the hydroponic gardening systems at their school, and be involved in the harvesting and consumption of a variety of fresh vegetables.

APPROACH: The goal of this revised USDA-CSREES Bridge grant project is to test a model for increasing vegetable intake and reducing obesity indices in rural families through the use of hydroponic gardening. All students enrolled in the three vocational classes at DeKalb County High School DeKalb County, Tennessee) will be invited to participate. TTU researchers will visit each classroom to explain the project and distribute informed consent forms to be taken home to parents/guardians. To participate in the study, high school students and their families must be willing to take home hydroponically grown vegetables, and consume them on a regular basis. Student participants must also agree to complete data collection forms four times per year. All vegetables will be grown by the students at the high school and sent home with those who agree to participate. All participating students will be assessed on two obesity indices four times per year for two years: Body Mass Index (height and weight), and blood pressure; parents/guardians will be assessed on these measures two times per year for two years. In order to obtain food intake information, each student participant will complete a fruit and vegetable screening tool and a 2-day food record four times per year, At the beginning and end of the study, the high school participants will complete the Youth and Adolescent Food Frequency Questionnaire (YAQ). The student participants will also compete two focus group sessions; one session in May each year. Parents/guardians will complete the fruit and vegetable screening tool and the 2-day food record two times per year for two years. The types of vegetables grown, the amounts harvested, costs of growing hydroponic vegetables, and time for maintenance will be determined over the two year study period. It is hypothesized that growing vegetables hydroponically will be an easy, cost-effective way to increase consumption of vegetables, and reduce obesity indices in rural families.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
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Natural Toxins
Viruses and Prions
Bacterial Pathogens
Chemical Contaminants
Food Preparation and Handling