Our Work

Engaging Undergraduates in Research: Dietary intake, weight status and cognition in primary school children in the WISER educational programs in Muhuru Bay, Kenya

Project Overview

This grant creates a team of undergraduates, graduate students, Kenyan research assistants, and faculty to examine the associations between nutritional intake, body weight, and cognition in primary school children in rural Western Kenya. The majority of children in this area experience food insecurity and consume inadequate calories, and overall diet quality is poor. Given the relationship between nutritional status and academic outcomes, a nutrition-based project should enhance cognition in children, leading to overall better educational outcomes. Our proposed baseline data will allow us to better identify the specific nutrition-related problems that should be targeted in the development of a school-based garden intervention. Further, possible future studies evaluating the effects of a school-based garden intervention may help provide more rigorous, much needed evidence for the effect of gardens on nutritional status, dietary intake and cognition in low resource countries.

The project has two primary objectives:

1. build research capacity in undergraduate students and Kenyan partners as part of a larger team; an
2. collect pilot data for a larger grant proposal to external funders. Our long-term goals are to develop a school-based garden intervention, and then assess the effect of the program on nutritional status, dietary intake and cognitive ability in primary school children in a randomized controlled study over a three-year period.

Sustainable school-based gardens are an under explored intervention for improving nutrition and cognitive growth in children.

Department & School

Trinity College of Arts and Sciences



  • Duke University

Project Collaborators

  • Duke University
  • Duke University
  • Duke University
  • Women's Institute for Secondary Education and Research
  • Duke Engage

Project Status


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