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Community Gardening Programs Linked to Lower BMI

Findings in both male and female participants compared to otherwise similar neighbors, siblings

FRIDAY, April 19 (HealthDay News) -- Male and female participants in community gardening programs have significantly lower body mass indexes (BMIs) than their neighbors and siblings, according to a study published online April 18 in the American Journal of Public Health.

Cathleen D. Zick, Ph.D., from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and colleagues assessed BMI data for 198 community gardening participants, and compared data with those of three groups who did not participate in community gardening: neighbors, siblings, and spouses.

The researchers found that, compared with their neighbors, male and female community gardeners had significantly lower BMIs. In multivariate analyses, estimated BMI reductions were 1.84 for women and 2.36 for men. Female and male community gardeners had significantly lower BMIs compared with their sisters (1.88) and brothers (1.33), respectively. Compared with their otherwise similar neighbors, community gardeners had lower odds of being overweight or obese.

"The health benefits of community gardening may go beyond enhancing the gardeners' intake of fruits and vegetables," write the authors. "Community gardens may be a valuable element of land use diversity that merits consideration by public health officials who want to identify neighborhood features that promote health."

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