Community gardens bring neighbors together to enjoy the outdoors and each others' company while growing nutritious food together. Urban gardens may also be a good way to enhance weight-loss efforts.
People who participate in community gardens seem to have lower BMIs and a smaller chance of being overweight or obese than people who live nearby but don't garden.
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For the study, researchers collected body mass index numbers for nearly 200 community gardeners in Salt Lake City. They then compared those numbers to the BMIs of unrelated neighbors as well as siblings and spouses of the gardeners, allowing them to see what effects gardening might have in people who eat a similar diet, live in areas with the same kinds of resources, participate in other activities together or share related genes.
Among women, community gardeners weighed in at nearly two BMI points lower than their neighbors, which is the equivalent of an 11-pound weight difference for a woman who was 5 feet 5 inches tall, the team reports today in the American Journal of Public Health. The difference was even greater for men, amounting to a 16-pound difference for a 5-foot, 10-inch man.