Community Gardening Health Benefits

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People who participate in community gardening have a significantly lower body mass index—as well as lower odds of being overweight or obese—than do their non-gardening neighbors. Researchers at the University of Utah reported these and other findings in the American Journal of Public Health published online today.

“It has been shown previously that community gardens can provide a variety of social and nutritional benefits to neighborhoods,” says Cathleen Zick, lead author of the study and professor of family and consumer studies at the University of Utah. “But until now, we did not have data to show a measurable health benefit for those who use the gardens.”

Results showed that women community gardeners had an average BMI 1.84 lower than their neighbors, which translates to an 11 pound weight difference for a woman 5 feet 5 inches tall. For men, the BMI was lower by 2.36 for gardeners—a difference of 16 pounds for a man 5 feet 10 inches tall—compared to the neighborhood cohort. Gardeners were also less likely to be overweight or obese; 46 percent less for women gardeners, and 62 percent less for men gardeners.

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