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Development and Preliminary Evaluation of an Internet-Based Healthy Eating Program: Randomized Controlled Trial
Journal of Medical Internet Research, Volume: 16, Issue: 10, Start page: e231
Swansea University Author: Gabriela Jiga-Boy
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The HealthValues Healthy Eating Programme is an internet-based intervention that employed a novel strategy for promoting behaviour change alongside other well known psychological principles to change behaviour. It consisted of phases targeting motivation (dietary feedback and advice, analysing reaso...
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The HealthValues Healthy Eating Programme is an internet-based intervention that employed a novel strategy for promoting behaviour change alongside other well known psychological principles to change behaviour. It consisted of phases targeting motivation (dietary feedback and advice, analysing reasons for health values, thinking about health-related desires and concerns), volition (implementation intentions with mental contrasting) and maintenance (reviewing tasks, weekly ‘tips’). We examined the effects of the programme on consumption of fruit and vegetables, saturated fat and added sugar over 6 months. Participants (N = 100) were recruited in the local community and were allocated to an intervention or control group using a stratified block randomisation protocol. They logged onto a website every week for 24 weeks and completed health-related measures. Those in the intervention group also completed the intervention tasks at these sessions. Additionally, all participants attended laboratory sessions at baseline, 3 months and 6 months, during which they completed food measures and were measured their body mass index (BMI), waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) and heart rate variability (HRV). A series of ANOVA models revealed a significant interaction for fruit and vegetable consumption: the intervention group increased their intake between baseline and 6 months relative to the control group. Results also showed overall reductions in saturated fat intake and added sugar intake, and overall reductions in BMI and WHR during this period, but no interactions with group. The intervention did not affect alcohol consumption, physical activity, smoking or HRV. Changes in fruit and vegetable consumption were driven by the motivational and maintenance phases of the programme, suggesting that the programme helped individuals to increase their consumption of fruit and vegetables and to sustain this over a 6-month period. The observed reduction in fat and sugar intake suggests that monitoring behaviours over time is effective, though further research would be needed to confirm this conclusion. The web-based nature of the programme makes it a potentially cost-effective way of promoting healthy eating.
College of Human and Health Sciences