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Study Protocol

Research Design, Protocol, and Participant Characteristics of COLEAFS: A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial of a Childcare Garden Intervention

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Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, College of Design, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
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Department of Human Centered Design, College of Human Ecology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
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Department of Landscape Architecture, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409, USA
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Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
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Department of Statistics, College of Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
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Department of Nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7400, USA
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paul B. Tchounwou
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(24), 13066; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182413066
Received: 7 October 2021 / Revised: 15 November 2021 / Accepted: 2 December 2021 / Published: 10 December 2021
Childcare garden interventions may be an effective strategy to increase fruit and vegetable (FV) consumption and physical activity among young children. The objective of this paper is to describe the research design, protocol, outcome measures, and baseline characteristics of participants in the Childcare Outdoor Learning Environments as Active Food Systems (“COLEAFS”) study, a cluster randomized controlled trial (RCT) examining the effect of a garden intervention on outcomes related to diet and physical activity. Fifteen childcare centers in low-income areas were randomly assigned to intervention (to receive garden intervention in Year 1), waitlist control (to receive garden intervention in Year 2), and control group (no intervention). The garden intervention comprised six raised beds planted with warm-season vegetables and fruits, and a garden activity booklet presenting 12 gardening activities. FV knowledge and FV liking were measured using a tablet-enabled protocol. FV consumption was measured by weighing FV before and after a snack session. Physical activity was measured using Actigraph GT3x+ worn by children for three consecutive days while at the childcare center. Of the 543 eligible children from the 15 childcare centers, 250 children aged 3–5 years received parental consent, assented, and participated in baseline data collection. By employing an RCT to examine the effect of a garden intervention on diet and physical activity among young children attending childcare centers within low-income communities, this study offers compelling research design and methods, addresses a critical gap in the empirical literature, and is a step toward evidence-based regulations to promote early childhood healthy habits. View Full-Text
Keywords: children; childcare; gardening; randomized controlled trial; healthy eating; physical activity children; childcare; gardening; randomized controlled trial; healthy eating; physical activity
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MDPI and ACS Style

Cosco, N.G.; Wells, N.M.; Monsur, M.; Goodell, L.S.; Zhang, D.; Xu, T.; Hales, D.; Moore, R.C. Research Design, Protocol, and Participant Characteristics of COLEAFS: A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial of a Childcare Garden Intervention. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 13066. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182413066

AMA Style

Cosco NG, Wells NM, Monsur M, Goodell LS, Zhang D, Xu T, Hales D, Moore RC. Research Design, Protocol, and Participant Characteristics of COLEAFS: A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial of a Childcare Garden Intervention. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(24):13066. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182413066

Chicago/Turabian Style

Cosco, Nilda Graciela, Nancy M. Wells, Muntazar Monsur, Lora Suzanne Goodell, Daowen Zhang, Tong Xu, Derek Hales, and Robin Clive Moore. 2021. "Research Design, Protocol, and Participant Characteristics of COLEAFS: A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial of a Childcare Garden Intervention" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 24: 13066. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182413066

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